LABELS: Music Rough Guide
WORKS: Rough Guide to the Music of Central Asia
CATALOGUE NO: RGNET 1129CD
Rough Guides always operate with a finger to the wind, and – given the way the world is going – this Central Asian record comes very much a propos, though it does slightly suffer by trying to please both the serious world-music brigade and the youth market simultaneously. But if compiler Simon Broughton proves that Uzbek pop can be as boringly bland as ours, he also reveals what singular beauties lurk behind the Central Asian banner.
Here is Tajikistan’s great singer Davlatmand, weaving exquisite vocal traceries over his raw and plangent setar (three-string lute), and here too is Uzbekistan’s top shashmaqam mezzo, though that Western term doesn’t begin to reflect her extraordinary timbre, Munadjat Yulchieva. Here are a plethora of gifted exponents on the nomad string instruments of old Turkestan: lovely to hear the horse-hair fiddle sounding as mysterious as its shamanistic origins imply. But this CD also reveals that conservatoire-trained musicians are remaking their instrumental and vocal traditions without destroying them. Fascinating. Michael Church