The last time that AyşeDeniz Gökçin came to our attention, she was adapting the music of Pink Floyd for the classical piano, with a nod to Franz Liszt (see ‘Magical Movements’, Cornucopia 50). Some of those Floyd songs dealt with serious subjects such as insanity and alienation, but now the young Turkish virtuoso has moved into even darker territory with her Nirvana Project.
The pianist uses the music of the American grunge band Nirvana to dramatise the final five years of the life of their singer and guitarist, Kurt Cobain, who shot himself in 1994 at the age of 27 – Gökçin’s own age when she launched this project. As you might expect, some of the music here is fairly bleak, but there are flashes of unexpected beauty when this graduate of the Royal Academy of Music channels the styles of composers such as Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff. Highlights include her sensitive renderings of the song ‘Heart Shaped Box’ and Nirvana’s signature hit, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. And it’s exciting to wonder what on earth this ambitious musician will tackle next.
Photograph by Charles Hopkinson