Argentina / Armenia / Belgium / Bosnia-Herzegovina / France / Germany / Greece / Israel / Morocco / Spain / Switzerland / Turkey / USA, 2009, Turkish classical music

Hespèrion XXIIstanbul: Dimitrie Cantemir 1673-1723: “Le Livre de la Science de la Musique” et les traditions musicales Sépharades et Arméniennes: An evocative, nuanced handling of a music built around the improvisational technique of maqam, a system used mainly in melodic music of Arabic origin, played, in this case, by an ensemble of classically-minded performers from across Europe, bringing us compositions that alternate between passion and meditation. This as faithful a reproduction as possible of not only the so-called cultivated music of the 17th-century Ottoman court but also the traditional yet popular music of that time. The reason I write “as faithful as possible” is because no one knows exactly how this music was played, so Jordi Savall, the conductor, relied on the writings of contemporary European travelers who described Ottoman music at the time. Such wonderful instruments as the oud (a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped, fretless stringed instrument), ney (end-blown long flute), qanun (a string instrument), tanbur (a long-necked string instrument), lyra (a Greek pear-shaped, three-stringed bowed musical instrument), duduk (an ancient Armenian double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood), kemancha (a Persian bowed string instrument), santur (a hammered dulcimer), and morisca (a plucked string instrument) form the backbone of these pieces.

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