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Behzad
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Reviews:


"… music’s magical realist."

-Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer

"... a master of the orchestra."
-Olin Chism, Dallas Morning News


"His Persian Trilogy is a set of three tone poems based on legends from the pre-Islamic Shahnameh (Book of Kings). It is the Persian Kalevala, so to speak, and Ranjbaran has come up with three masterly contributions worthy of Sibelius."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide


Violin Concerto


"…high class, cohesive, eminently listenable-to music. … Eastern exoticism, encased within a Western classical format …when the concerto… just sings out a fine melodic line, the effect is ravishing."
-Joe Riley, Liverpool ECHO

"… a varied tapestry of interesting sounds, colors, rich harmonies [and] integrated melodies…"
-Geraldine Freedman, The Sunday Gazette (Albany)

"The Tehran-born Juilliard composer might be thought of as music’s magical realist. In this work – as well as in his Persian Trilogy” – a passage can be going along at midlevel dissonance when, as if a light suddenly refracted, the orchestration turns lustrous and the harmonies seductive."
-Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer


   
Open Secret
for Chorus and Chamber Orchestra

"Mr. Ranjbaran’s attractive Rumi settings were… philosophical. The poems are brief but eloquent, and Mr. Ranjbaran’s music had the effect of both magnifying their sense of mystery and clarifying their meaning. Particularly striking was the final movement, Dance of Light, in which a subtle exoticism and sense of antiquity shone through a Western harmonic frame."
-Allan Kozinn, New York Times


   
Seven Passages for Orchestra (part of Persian Trilogy)

"…brilliantly and colorfully orchestrated…engaging…"
-Susan L. Peña, Reading Eagle

"Ranjbaran's mastery of orchestration is apparent in the delicious, delicate opening sonorities and in the full-throated declamations that follow as the hero conquers demon after demon… there is no denying the exciting thrust and sense of conquest that this music radiates."
-Herman Trotter, The Buffalo News

"All seven passages are telescoped into a colorful overture."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide

"…roils and seethes and then drops stars from the heavens to drift, sparkling, to the earth.

The composer demonstrated that the dense structure of agitation, aggression, magic and humor that he offers up can be parsed to that three-note structure, which, in various contexts, can be heroic, mysterious or comic, as it were, establishing conventions for abstract thought."
-Anthony Bannon, The Chautauquan Daily

"Ranjbaran… created in Seven Passages a clear and ringing argument for the continued survival and growth of symphonic form. He clearly recognizes the power of the orchestra… and uses its power to create rich, languid colors and pulses of striking emotional energy. Ranjbaran plays the colors of the orchestra with an unconscious mastery: here the entire gathering of forces on stage are at his command, and he uses that power with grace and ease. The audience joined in at the end of the work with a standing ovation for the young composer."
-John Farrell, Press-Telegram

"…intensely colorful and imaginative throughout…"
-Gary Panetta, Peoria Journal Star

"Saluting unsung heroes in Seven Passages debut. Are heroes born or made? The latter, says composer Behzad Ranjbaran in his new Seven Passages… The heroic theme emerges in the course of the music. It doesn’t arrive fully formed, although it is adumbrated and appears in fragments as the work progresses from a fairy-tale gossamer beginning to its full-scale triumphant conclusion."
-Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times


   
Songs of Eternity for Soprano and Orchestra

"…enchanting…the evening's musical heart…Ranjbaran's lush musical vocabulary and colorful orchestration recall Mahler and Strauss, but the exotic touches such as the melismatic vocal writing are unmistakably original. Seventeen minutes long, the piece wielded a peculiar, timeless magic, and seemed just a fraction of the duration."
-Matthew Erikson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"You may not have heard of Mr. Ranjbaran, but you really should get to know his music…[he] backs the soprano soloist with a large ensemble so skillfully employed that it's fair to call him a master of the orchestra. The instrumental music reinforces the generally pensive air created by the melodic line…[an] impressive work…"
-Olin Chism, Dallas Morning News

"…luxurious…

…mesmerizing…

…simply outstanding…"
-Chris Shull, Dallas Morning News

"…certainly worth a second hearing… there was much to praise in the score, with its sense of restless motion, its attractive writing for winds, and an almost Wagnerian use of the orchestra."
-Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times

"This beautiful 16-minute work harks back to Mahler in the sumptuousness and subtle nuance of its orchestration and in its tonal footprint, but there is nothing derivative about it. Its colors and drama fit without mirroring the words from the ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Kahayyam’… Particularly noteworthy were exquisite melismas (expressive passages sung on one syllable) Ranjbaran wrote on words such as ‘sorrow’…"
-Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


   
Elegy for Cello and Orchestra

"The ethereal Elegy [was] fragile, almost like a mirage... It was an admirable follow-up to the Elgar [Cello Concerto]."
-Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News


   
Awakening for String Orchestra

"layered textures of ravishing string sonorities. This intense work is an important addition to the chamber orchestra repertoire."
-Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


   
Saratoga for Orchestra

"…rousing and enjoyable…"
-Judith White, The Saratogian


   
Concerto for Violin, Viola and Orchestra


"Ranjbaran has created a sophisticated work.

It was a treat to hear this world premiere, and it would be a treat to heart it again and better explore its many complexities."
-John Shulson, Virginia Gazette

"…rhythmic precision and dissonant tunings…But the piece is not just about modern musical stress. There are also long passages of beautiful, tonal, melodic writing. There is quite a good balance between the various elements."
-Lee Teply, Virginian-Pilot


   
String Quartet No. 1

"Ranjbaran would be a worthy successor [to Bartok]….Each of the three movements crackles with distinct character. The intense drama in each builds not just on volume and activity, but also on well-conceived harmonies that create and release tension…. I could feel its coherence and its substance."
-Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Like Bartok, Ranjbaran grasps the old Greek concept of catharsis to its core and achieves it in emotionally ambitious music."
-Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


   
Six Caprices for Violin Duo


"[The work] showed organized, recognisable melodic and rhythmic themes, pulse, musical emotion and wit."
-Judith White, The Saratogian

"His love for the violin is evident throughout this skillfully written 20-minute piece. He writes with lyric beauty throughout the work."
-James Hennerty, Albany Times Union


   
Dance of Life for Violin and Contrabass

"Rarely have I seen a composer successfully capture the essence of the bass, as did Behzad Ranjbaran in Dance of Life."
-Rick Vizachero, Bass World

"Opening with an excellent new piece, Dance of Life by Iranian émigré Behzad Ranjbaran…"
-Simon Woolf, Double Bassist

"…a striking work that seems able to accommodate the various timbral possibilities of the bass without any feeling of awkwardness."
-Joanne Talbot, The Strad


   
Ballade for Unaccompanied Contrabass

"Ballade is a five-minute work of moderate difficulty, and makes a wonderful addition to recital programming, both for the advanced student, as well as the professional."
-Michael McGuirk, International Society of Bassists

"It’s good music that happens to be written for the bass – which is as it should be – and deserves to be played."
-Neil Tarlton, Double Bassist


   
Mithra for Orchestra

"…a fetching composition…

Mr. Ranjbaran has a consummate command of orchestration and instrumental color."
-Terry McNeill, Classical Sonoma


   
Piano Concerto

"…plump with intriguing details…
The nocturnal second movement…[had a]delicate, lovely dialogue between [soloist] Thibaudet and harpist Elisabeth Remy Johnson."
-Pierre Ruhe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The magnificence of the horns…the elegance of the piano.
…flowing trills and ambitious runs…"
-Kenny Crucial, www.wsws.org


   
The Blood Of Seyavash
for Orchestra (part of Persian Trilogy)

"The Blood of Seyavash is one of the most breathtaking modern story ballets to come along in a long time."
-Lisa A. DuBois, Nashville Banner

"Ranjbaran has composed a noble and brilliantly conceived score, spectacularly orchestrated and filled with memorable tunes, meticulous development, and impressive craftsmanship."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide

"Ranjbaran has composed a noble and brilliantly conceived score, spectacularly orchestrated and filled with memorable tunes, meticulous development, and impressive craftsmanship."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide

"The Blood of Seyavash has the qualities of inherent beauty and strong musical structure that make it a satisfying musical entity. It is a rich experience as a ballet, but it is no doubt destined to be equally pleasing as a concert piece alone."
-Henry Arnold, Nashville Scene

"Ranjbaran's music is more classical and romanticin its approach, choosing not to forgo melodies and harmonies for thesake of being groundbreaking. And what melodies! Ranjbaran has managedto create music that is at once an amalgamation of romantic poetry,which is the essence of Iranian culture with the epic sweep of itsspirit, and all of that in the framework of western classical music,which in the end only serves to make the piece more coherent andbeautiful. The perfect mixture of the old and the new, the east and thewest."
-Shahriar Zayyani, Shahrvand (Toronto)


   
Cello Concerto

"Attractive themes, well-marshalled and developed…a deserving companion and successor to his discmate Barber's [cello concerto]."
-http://www.recordsinternational.com/RICatalogApr04.html

"…totally lovable…a marvelous piece full of good tunes, and effective exchanges between soloist and orchestra. Even the long, rhapsodic opening movement really contrives somehow to cheat the clock, maybe simply because its thematic material is so instantly appealing. It would bring the house down in concert and deserves to be widely known."
-David Hurwitz, Classics Today.com

"This work has a reflective but articulate soul giving itself up in song. There is a touching cantorial first movement that also has a euphoric buoyancy…

The lightness of being in the first movement returns for the flighty yet by no means shallow finale. This is music that whoops and dances on its toes with the effervescence of vintage Copland and Moeran."
-Rob Barnett, Musicweb

"Ranjbaran’s music is solidly constructed in a very traditional style, with a strong emotional impact. ...The cello solo often has the vocal character of a recitative. A lively folk-like theme introduced in the first movement is the main idea of the last, and other ideas return as well, helping to tie the whole piece together quite neatly. He (Tobias) shared his commitment to the work with his colleagues, and with the audience, which gave its enthusiastic approval."
-Lee Teply, The Virginian Pilot


   
Elegy for Strings

"The musicians grouped themselves in a wide semicircle for Behzad Ranjbaran’s Elegy for Strings. The players never lost an ounce of Ranjbaran’s radiant luminescence."
-Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post


   
Seemorgh
for Orchestra (part of Persian Trilogy)

"evocative three-movement piece…lush exoticism."
-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide

"…The music is unmistakably graphic in its appeal. Dark, threatening, driving, splashy and brilliant… thoroughly accomplished…"
-Timothy Mangan, Los Angeles Times


"…sinuous melodic lines nestled in lush harmonies…extroverted and action packed, building to an epic scale."
--Ronni Reich, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)
 

Symphony No. 1

"Its bold, darkly restive first movement, built on minor seconds, is followed by a tragic second movement of Shostakovich-like angst, and a third movement graced by odd-metered Persian rhythms and a dense clangor… a clenched and questioning work…"
-Susan Larson, The Boston Globe

Fountains of Fin for Flute, Violin, and Cello

"The score has a multicultural underpinning…the flute line…is meant to suggest the Persian version of the ney, a wooden flute used throughout the Middle East. And the music’s decidedly modal accent gives the piece a hint of exoticism without wresting it from the conventions of Western musical’s discourse.

Mr. Ranjbaran uses this hybrid language to paint a complicated picture…[of]…both the entrancing beauty and the brooding, fearsome mysteries of this Iranian garden. It proved a gripping piece."
-Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

 
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