Zeynep Ucbasaran, concert pianist
Santa Barbara, California

  Review summaries

What the critics are saying about  W. A. Mozart  (Eroica JDT3403 and JDT3404) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"Consummate Mastery - ... an art of crystalline clarity. - With these four CDs and thirteen sonatas Zeynep Ucbasaran brings her complete cycle to a close.. Zeynep Ucbasaran's musicianship is such that she conjures from the modern concert instrument all the delicacy and subtlety of tone that a Mozart instrument can provide. Nor have contemporary habits imposed any undue speeds. The performances are clearly the result of deep thought distilled into an art of crystalline clarity."
Robert Anderson
Music & Vision 
"The brilliant Turkish-born pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran begins this double CD with a sparkling performance of that first sonata and also plays six other early Mozart sonatas... Since 1996 she has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and become internationally acclaimed for her solo recitals, concerts and chamber music performances. Mozart sonatas can be almost boring when played badly but the performances here are excellent - natural, inventive, spontaneous and deeply satisfying. Zeynep Ucbasaran’s vibrant interpretations of these diverse works elegantly captures the essential poetry in the music.  Eroica have also released a second double CD (JDT 3404) by Zeynep Ucbasaran, featuring six of Mozart’s late piano sonatas. Both albums are highly recommended."
John Pitt,
New Classics
"(On JDT 3403) "The playing is throughout natural and unforced, with slow movements particular highlights... if you want to hear Mozart on a modern Steinway in performances  that allow the music to speak without particular interference between you and the composer, but without being prim or academic, you should be well pleased with these two CDs."
(On JDT 3404) "This is Mozart playing at the highest level."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London
Click here for full reviews of  W. A. Mozart (JDT3403 & JDT3404)
What the critics are saying about  A. A. Saygun / Piano Music  (Naxos 8.570746  ) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"Finally, a piano recital I'll unhesitatingly list among the outstanding discs to have come my way in 2008...unfailing rhythmic clarity and beautifully controlled dynamics..."
Howard Smith, Music & Vision 
"Her playing is faultless and she clearly understands Saygun's works."
Carl Bauman, American Record Guide
"Pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran offers a splendid disc of Saygun's piano music."
"She is a wonderful exponent of this music. Her sense of rhythm, so vital here, leads to performances that are full of bounce."
Colin Clarke, FANFARE
"Turkish-American pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran, who has released several strong recordings of both Turkish and  Western music, is entirely comfortable with this idiom and delivers vigorous, commanding performances."
James Manheim,
All Music Guide
"Like Bartok's works, these are the product of a sophisticated musical mind, while preserving the melodic and rhythmic integrity of the original."
George Dorris,
Ballet Review
Click here for full reviews of  A. A. Saygun / Piano Music (Naxos 8.570746)
What the critics are saying about  W. A. Mozart  (Eroica JDT3311) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"A fine pianist finds bubbling delight in Mozart: Ucbasaran has a remarkable affinity for tonal shading; she keenly understands how chords and sonorities function in a given phrase.. She does not let a single phrase pass by her without considering its function in the greater context of the piece, and tempi are ever so slightly inflected throughout to brilliant results. This infuses Mozart with a continual bubbling energy that is delightful to hear."
Andrew Druckenbrod, The Gramophone
"This is the sixth recording by Santa Barbara-based pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran...[Her] playing has always been unfailingly musical, but I find more temperament here than previously. The recording itself is big and bold and transferred at a rather high level, creating an initial impression of a degree of aggressiveness... Zeynep is signally successful in the long variation movement of the D major work...The Adagio variation is played with deep feeling. For once I reached the end of this movement feeling that the prospect of hearing it again would be welcome. It was at this point that I realized that the gifted player of the earlier records is developing into a pianist of some stature... An excellent recommendation, then, for three of Mozart’s rarer sonatas played with real conviction."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London
"Turkish-born, American-resident pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran has gained attention for her explosive, percussive, mercurial performances of Liszt's music...here she takes on two early Mozart sonatas...[Her] ancestor in this kind of Mozart performance is another female pianist, Alicia de Larrocha, but Ucbasaran goes even farther in the direction of sharp dynamic contrasts with sudden percussive emphasis of individual features...The overall effect is spare, hard, and brilliant."
James Manheim, All Music Guide
Click here for full reviews of  W. A. Mozart (JDT3311)
What the critics are saying about  W. A. Mozart  (Eroica JDT3222) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"An agreeable elegance pervades pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran's playing on these discs. Many a pianist can manage the technical elements of Mozart's piano catalog; fewer have the affinity for his tonal shading and delicate phrasing. There is less room to maneuver, interpretively speaking, and Ucbasaran displays the nuance needed in her recital...Ucbasaran's treatment of the Fantasias is particularly telling of her innate ability. Eschewing the flashy interpretation often brought to these works in the name of capturing Mozart's improvisatory prowess, she pulls back. Her readings acknowledge that Mozart was indeed composing fantasias, and they should be treated with the same care as any of his works. Her patience unpacks these works in a more polished and ultimately convincing manner. Both sonatas then receive compelling performances."
Andrew Druckenbrod, The Gramophone
"Her textures are clear and clean.. with an avoidance of gratuitous legato lines where none are written. In the first movement of K.309 you might find Alicia de Larrocha, with a not dissimilar approach, more warmly inflected at times, while Joyce Hatto, at a slightly slower tempo, finds more of a smile, and of a dialogue between the different themes. But Zeynep’s plain-speaking has its own truth too.. In the "Adagio" [of the C minor Sonata] Zeynep is again expansive without any suggestion of romanticism, and this movement may be seen as a touchstone of her musicality, her ability to go straight to the point without frills. In the less 'profound' music of the variations she provides a splendid display while never losing her essential seriousness.. a splendid recording."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London
"Variations on a Minuet by Duport, Fantasia in D minor, and Fantasia in C minor all sparkle with delight and further demonstrates what this pianist is capable of at her best."
Alan Becker, American Record Guide
"Virtuoso performances that are never too flamboyant or hurried from a pianist of world class."
John Pitt, New Classics
"A most intelligent and convincing Mozart recital.. Ucbasaran’s strong suit is her clean articulation girded by a powerful sonority..."
Gary Lemco,  Audiophile Audition
"As a Mozart player, Ucbasaran touches the sublime.. Ucbasaran's tone is deep and her technique is true, but it is her ability to phrase a line and shape a structure, her ability to make the lines sing and the shapes dance, her ability to go beyond playing the notes to transcending the score, her ability, in a word, to touch the sublime."
James Leonard, All Music Guide
Click here for full reviews of  W. A. Mozart (JDT3222)
What the critics are saying about  Scarlatti / Beethoven / Saygun / Bernstein / Muczynski (Eroica JDT3223) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"An elegant double-helping from Pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran:  An agreeable elegance pervades pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran's playing on these discs...She fully captures [Beethoven's Bagatelles] lighthearted nature. Two selections by Ahmet Saygun showcase Ucbasaran's heritage: The harmonic delights of Preludes on Aksak Rhythms are aurally pungent in her hands while the 'episode in a little girl's imaginary world' of Inci's Book emerge with vivid color. Playful works by Leonard Bernstein and Robert Muczynski round out the disc, the latter's ranging Six Preludes presented with particular verve."
Andrew Druckenbrod, The Gramophone
"This recital amply displays [Zeynep Ucbasaran's] already amazing ability to capture the different styles and moods of the baroque, romantic and modern eras..she really makes the music float through thin air. Ucbasaran is not daunted by the formidable demands of these pieces, on the contrary, she grabs the opportunity with 'both hands' to project and promote her amazing natural skills and virtuosic instincts."
Gerald Fenech, Classical Net
"A very fine performance of the Beethoven Bagatelles and some interesting excursions into contemporary byways.. very musical playing.. offers elegance, boisterousness and gravity as required, together with a scrupulous observance of every marking in the score.."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb
"This varied program reveals Ms. Ucbasaran as an exceptional talent. She brings real personality to the Scarlatti sonatas. The music seems to inhabit a free-flowing, almost improvisatory realm... the recording has a first rate concert hall prespective with wide-range, dynamic sound.. this recording heralds an impressive keyboard talent."
Lawrence Budmen, American Record Guide
"A nicely diversified program marks this installment of the ongoing discography of Turkish virtuoso Zeynep Ucbarasan..The four sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti show off some brisk, pearly play, with quicksilver runs and crossing of hands.. Lucid, sober, and unforced playing from Ucbarasan keeps these pieces piquant and vivacious.. I find Ms. Ucbasaran a natural Beethoven exponent, as she balances musical mischief and pungent or lyrical impulses in Beethoven’s lexicon..Clear, crisp, piano sound, and a class production make this keyboard survey a keeper."
Gary Lemco,  Audiophile Audition
"Virtuoso performances that are never too flamboyant or hurried from a pianist of world class."
John Pitt, New Classics
Click here for full reviews of Scarlatti/Beethoven/Saygun/Bernstein/Muczynski (JDT3223)
What the critics are saying about  LISZT / Sonata in B minor(Eroica JDT3135) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
Click here for full reviews of LISZT / Sonata in B minor (JDT3135)
What the critics are saying about  Virtuoso Schubert Album (Eroica JDT3108) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"The Turkish pianist gives us objective performances of clarity, sharp detail, rhythmic vitality, and integrity. She is obviously a player for whom outward brilliance and virtuoso display are of secondary importance, markedly sublimated to purely musical values..In overall evaluation, I would place this release on a par with the recordings of Schubert's A-major Sonata by Jando and Andsnes reviewed in the last ARG. I am happy to have this recording in my collection.."
David Mulbury,
American Record Guide
  "This disc shows off the versatility of Turkish pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran...She takes on the most Apollinian of Schubert's three late (1828) piano sonatas, the A Major, whose second movement Andantino features some haunting writing melodically and polyphonically, with a kind of ferocious homage a Bach. She keeps a light hand on the proceedings, emphasizing the lyrical energies in this monumental piece. I found myself much admiring her technique, often forgetting about the import of the music.."
                                                                             Gary Lemco,  Audiophile Audition
"Zeynep Ucbasaran's playing of Schubert's A Major sonata and "Wanderer" Fantasy is very persuasive... her remarkable rhythmic steadiness keeps the music moving forward impressively, and is neither stilted nor breathless."
"Recording the large-scale Schubert piano works is a challenge. The music does not respond fully without a performance vibrating to its depths in gathering up the scintillating decoration of Schubert's style without undue exaggeration, yet with a perspective that  is  both stable and credible. Only occasionally do I consider Zeynep's playing a touch less convincing than  expected, but there is plenty of insight with which to draw the music together and to maintain a sense of propulsion. We have here the Wanderer Fantasy  and the Sonata in A -- a very fair choice of Schubert at his best, and even today gripping us with its sustained quality."
                                                                                               Basil Ramsey, Music & Vision, UK
"In this rewarding CD recorded at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, she plays two works by Franz  Schubert: his profound and noble Sonata in A major and the visionary Wanderer-Fantasy. Both pieces are awe-inspiring in their scope and demanding for the performer but Zeynep Ucbasaran plays superbly and intelligently throughout.."
                                                                                 John Pitt, New Classics, UK
Click here for full reviews of Virtuoso Schubert Album (JDT3108)
What the critics are saying about  Santa Barbara LISZT Album (Eroica JDT3092) and pianist  ZEYNEP Ucbasaran
"Brilliant... An outstanding CD... Zeynep Ucbasaran's playing is particularly fine in the impassioned Funérailles."
John Pitt, New Classics, UK
"Captured with breath-taking clarity and range.. a mesmerizing album."
Gerald Carpenter, The Independent
"In a recital entirely devoted to Liszt, this young Turkish pianist has produced a noteworthy first record. Her program includes several brilliant pieces, but most of the space is devoted to poetry and romantic meditation. And this type of music best reveals Zeynep Ucbasaran's artistic talents. In the Funérailles, she expresses a sustained romanticism, shaped by a sensitivity that knowsits own limits. Such masking of her virtuoso performance would lead to a too restrained interpretation were it not for the subtle contrasts she achieves, for instance in the crescendos, which she skillfully manages right to their peak."
Stephane Villemin, American Record Guide
"There is no question that Zeynep Ucbasaran has the technical equipment to handle Liszt's challenges, but what is most  impressive is the intelligence and sensitivity she brings to her playing.. Ucbasaran handles the demanding passages of Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-Hwith elegance.. and concludes with a rousing version of the Rhapsodie espagnole."
Tony Gualtieri, Classical Music Review
"Zeynep Ucbasaran meets the technical and musical challenges of some of Liszt's larger pieces impressively.."
"A gifted young artist, at her best in the BACH Fantasy and Fugue and the Spanish Rhapsody. She has a secure technique and a  sound sense of structure.."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London
Click here for full reviews of Santa Barbara LISZT Album (JDT3092)