Various: Traditional music from Afghanistan, Turkey, North Africa and Spain

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LABELS: Alia Vox
ALBUM TITLE: Orient-Occident: 1200-1700
WORKS: Traditional music from Afghanistan, Turkey, North Africa and Spain
PERFORMER: Khaled Arman (rebab), Osman Arman (tulak), Yair Dalal, Driss El Maloumi (oud), Pedro Estevan (percussion), Siar Hashimi (tabla), Dimitris Psonis (santur); Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall
Early-music maestro Jordi Savall here forges out beyond his native Spain to encompass the entire Mediterranean, hoping to find a spiritual antidote to the clash of civilizations which erupted with the outbreak of war in Afghanistan in 2001. Following in the footsteps of the world-music fraternity, Savall is now discovering musical correspondences between Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East which went underground when the Jews and Moriscos were driven out of the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century. Here are dances, prayers, laments, and meditations which have been preserved intact thanks partly to the oral tradition, and partly to the compendious manuscript collection of the Moldavian musician Prince Dimitrie Cantemir. The performers come from Afghanistan, Turkey, and North Africa, as well as from Spain. Savall plays a gamut of different bowed instruments with expressive warmth, often accompanied by the oud (lute) and santur (dulcimer), as well as the Afghan rebab (stringed instrument with goatskin resonator) plus a variety of drums. While some of the pieces could almost have emanated from the Celtic fringe, others speak from the deep heart of Islam. There are some wonderfully eloquent oud and santur solos, and much implied counterpoint lurking beneath the monody which was then the norm. Michael Church