Abdul Salam Kheir, Alfonso Fernandes, Diego Pisador, Hatin ibn Said etc

COMPOSERS: Abdul Salam Kheir,Alfonso Fernandes,Diego Pisador,Hatin ibn Said etc
LABELS: Fred
ALBUM TITLE: Convivencia
WORKS: Works by Abdul Salam Kheir, Alfonso Fernandes, Diego Pisador, Hatin ibn Said etc
PERFORMER: Works by Abdul Salam Kheir, Alfonso Fernandes, Diego Pisador, Hatin ibn Said etc
CATALOGUE NO: FREDCD1
Convivencia refers to the co-existence

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of different faiths in medieval Spain, a situation which ended abruptly in 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella expelled Jews and Moors from their newly-united realm.

One reason why Moorish rulers had tolerated Jews and Christians in Al-Andalus was that they were liable to taxes from which Muslims were exempt. Enlightened self-interest, then, but certainly preferable to the ethnic-cleansing favoured by Los Reyes Catolicos. Still, as Bott says, it would be naïve and dangerous to romanticise convivencia. Today, she explains, it may be understood as ‘an agreeable exchange of cultura y gastronomía, [or] a sort of apartheid’ but it was very different from today’s ‘well-meaning, amorphous jargon about multiculturalism’.

This enjoyable collection covers the 12th-16th centuries, therefore including the period when convivencia was waning: as some songs indicate, Moors and Christians were far from averse to fighting. Yet, regardless of subject-matter, the sensuous sound of this music makes it difficult to avoid stereotypical visions of languid nights spent in courtyards graced by bougainvillea, fountains and birdsong.

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Bott’s beguiling voice is matched by lovely playing from David Miller and Abdul Salam Kheir. Kheir, a master of the oud (the lute’s darker textured ancestor), also sings on some tracks, including the mesmeric opening Prayer. Barry Witherden