What did Vladimir Molov say about

M. I. Quandour's works



Through the Centuries to our times In the music of 



By Vladimir Molov

(Translation from Russian- the Literary Journal)

In the Anthology of the Adyga people’s musical culture there are many remarkable pages of the millennial history, embracing the world-known heroic epos “Narts” that comprises songs and folk tunes which later became classical dances kafa, oudj and islamey. Being deeply rooted in the past, the Adyga folklore has inspired  prose, poetry and folk tunes, religious and folk rites, having passed through irreplaceable privations and sufferings in the period of the Russian-Caucasian war. The Adyga folklore has always been inseparable from the life of the Adygas wherever they have found themselves; in the most difficult economic and political conditions it has never abandoned our ancient and glorious people.   

A vivid confirmation of that are the lives of our countrymen – the Adygas who, as fate has willed, found themselves in many countries of the world: Turkey, Jordan, the United States, as well as European countries: Holland, Germany, France and other countries. Mohy Quandour son of Izzat is a striking representative of the Adyga Diaspora. His destiny reflects life collisions of thousands of fellow-tribesmen who found themselves in foreign lands, but managed to survive owing to the strong roots of their people.

Mohy Quandour is an author/writer and dramatist, a Hollywood film director, critic and publicist, and, certainly, a well-known composer. The music he wrote for his feature and Television films at the Hollywood Studios has laid the beginning to his creative career in music.    

Having lived in the United States for 30 years, Mohy Quandour acquired the degree of Master of Economics and History, as well as two Doctor’s degrees in Philosophy and Economics. He has a good command of five languages. In his adolescent years Quandour played the violin, deeply comprehending the rudiments of classical music.

Mohy Quandour’s creativity: a novel, trilogies, histories, feature films, stories, and, certainly, music, is permeated by the tragic lot of his people, sufferings, lamentations and tears of Adyga mothers, depicted   in  dirges  (gybze), and nostalgia.

Mohy Quandour’s suites, Overture to the poem “Sataney” and his most  significant  composition – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, “Caucasus”,  have been a remarkable and weighty contribution to the treasure-house of professional  music of the Adyga composers.

The Concerto consists of three movements, with its music deriving its quality from the abyssal chords of the Adyga soul. It is conspicuous by a coherent intonation texture, dainty figuration and flexibility. One cannot but be fascinated by the slide changes in the metro-rhythmical pattern of melodies; the modal organizations captivating the listener for their melodic modulation periods, as in ancient songs  (Dorian and Mixolydian modes).

The first movement  (Allegro non troppo) opens with a classical form of   setting  in the orchestra of thematic exposition, introducing the listeners into the world of emotional facets , this being accomplished  above all through the expressive instrumental orchestral  introduction,  expansive in colouring, with its  national character being vividly expressed.  The first movement is bithematic, the first theme being very important and obvious from the view-point of comprehending the mature stand of composer-philosopher Mohy Quandour. The cello solo and the orchestral texture in it a kind of form ezhiyu (choral). The second theme stems from the first one, but performing in counterpoint, supplements and broadens the main melodic design by the national idiom.

The second movement (Adagio) is written in a free sonata form with variations, and, like the first one, it consists of two themes, contrasting with each other, but remaining in one and the same melodic tenor trend. Variations help promote the continuation of these themes. The composer, both in the first and the second movements, avoids the orchestra’s playing in tuttis. In the second movement the orchestral episodes are very few, fairly brief and transparent in structure, performing just a link-up function. Nevertheless, mention should be made of the episode that marks the summit of the culmination wave before the end of the second movement. Listening to the cello solo and the orchestra in the second movement, one becomes fully aware of the style of the whole concerto.

Touching upon the specific features of cantilena in Mohy Quandour’s Concerto one cannot but mention the sweeping cello tones, the use of timbre specificity of each of the diverse ranges of sound, specifically a rare artistic device in the present-day cello medium, called the foam – the playing on all the strings with no extra tension, without chromaticisms and lengthy rapid-scale passages.  The tonal shifts by half a tone higher or lower in the baritone register can provide an illustration of the masterly use of the cello instrument within diatonic modes. It should also be noted that the cello tones are never forced, this being very essential from the view-point of the instrument’s blending with the orchestra, since the cello is somewhat less bright in timbre than the violin or the piano. Episodes with the use of the chord technique are extremely rare, short of brief forth-fifth and third episodes.

Dominant in the Concerto is lyrical thematic invention brought forth by the distinctive interpretation of the cyclic form, underlying the tragic motifs of the Caucasian fate. The interpretation of all three movements in tonal comparison varies. The composer has managed to bring out the conception through using traditional harmonic and melodic media, but, so to say, in the baroque style, which makes his music akin to works of composers of the 17-18 centuries.

The third movement (Allegro moderato rondo) pictures a festive Cherkess wedding ritual with the traditional ancient Adyg theme, a kind of featuring the emergence of Cherkess women in national consumes. The two existing themes are equipollent but vary in character. Nevertheless, both the cello solo and the sound of the orchestra are marked with the same clarity and clean definition of the figurative line. Being true to the classical form in the interpretation of all two main parts, the second theme of the latter is written in the rondo form..

The Concerto is not bent on setting the main part linked with incidental episodes. Each of the movements reveals the full-fledged existence of the two themes, but with variations. 

The stylistic unity of the Concerto is to a large extent brought forth by the character of the timbre of the cello itself, this making it possible to express the really national idiom  in all the movements.  It is not at all accidental that Mohy Quandour’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra bears the sacred name of “Caucasus”, being in actual fact the first composition in the Adyg composers’ music for this remarkable instrument with the symphony orchestra.

The expressive thematic invention, and profound and unpretentious nature of Mohy Quandour’s music are exceedingly topical in promoting the development of the Adyg music. The Cello Concerto displays amid the abundance of profound contemporary music a subtle comprehension of the principles of concerto symphonism with no tiring or irritating effect on the sensible hearts of many listeners. The light buoyant dramatic qualities invariably keep the listener in spiritual tenor conditioned by the distinction of the colouring of the music that evokes compassion, emotional and figurative perception: from epic-dramatic to lyrical and contemplative  meditative feelings.

The high artistic standards of  Mohy Quandour’s music undoubtedly make  this composer worthy of  being bracketed with the leading  figures of   the   classical music composition schools of today.

Vladimir Molov,

Composer Director, College of Arts and Music, Nalchik

State Prize Laureate of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic,

Laureate of the IV Arts Festival of the Russian Federation,