|measuring the speed of Rio Wang|
To Saint Cecilia,
patron of the musicians, on her feast
Trio Tzane: Bir evler yaptırdım (A house I’ve built). From the CD Gaïtani (2010)
The three members of Trio Tzane represent the three – Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish – branches of traditional Balkan music, and on this album they select songs from all three traditions in three voices, in their own arrangement. A house I’ve built is a Turkish wedding song of Slavic roots from Prizren of Southern Kosovo, but its lyrics is about the lovers who are forbidden to see each other.
Soheil Nafisi: همه فصلن دنیا Hame-ye faslân-e donyâ, “All seasons of the world”. From the CD تران های جنوب Tarânehâ-ye jonūb, “Southern songs” (2010)
“I wish every season of the world were springtime…” The text of this song was written by Ebrahim Monsefi (1945-1997), the popular Persian “bard” of the 60-70’s in the Hormozgani dialect of the Southern Persian port city of Bandar Abbas, and he accompanied it with guitar on his only published album ترانه های رامی Tarânehâ-ye Râmi, “Songs of Râmi”. Here it is sung by Soheil Nafisi on his recently published CD, to which he gave the title of “Southern songs” as a hommage to Monsefi, and even the style of the music is inspired by the port city’s Arabish music, a far away relative of Spanish Flamenco. This song accompanied our post on the old bicycles of Isfahan.
Deniz Kızı Eftelya: Kadıköy’lü. From the CD Kadıköy’lü (1998)
Born in a Greek family in Istanbul, Deniz Kızı (“Mermaid”) Eftelya (1891-1939), was a legendary singer of early 20th-century Istanbul. This CD by Kalan Music is a good selection of her early recordings. To the post on the Ottoman ephemera of Istanbul.
Lila Downs: El relámpago (The lightning). From the CD El cantina (2006)
On this CD the American - Mexican Mixtec Indian singer performs Mexican songs. This one accompanies our post on the early 20th-c. Mexican photos of the Casasola brothers. Lila Downs won a worldwide fame with the music of the film on Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera’s wife, who also figures on the photos of the Casasolas.
Facundo Cabral: The day that I go, and Carlos Di Fulvio (*1939): The chacarera. Music and song by Sebastiano Solis. From the CD El Gaucho, el Inca y la Nueva Música (1982).
The Argentine poet Facundo Cabral (*1937) grew up in an asylum. “I did not speak until I was nine years old, I was illiterate until the age of fourteen, at forty-six I first met my father. After escaping the asylum, I learned singing from peasants. On 24 February 1954 a tramp recited to me the Sermon on the Mount, and I discovered that I was reborn. Then I wrote the lullaby Vuele bajo. This is how it all started.” – The text and translation of the two songs can be read here.
Federico Lechner, Tango & Jazz Trio: Beboponga (2008) (5'06")
Recently we have expanded our jazz collection with three samples of Argentine jazz which seems particularly productive lately. To the CDs of Ernesto Jodos (El jardín seco, 2008) and Paula Shocron (Homenaje, 2009) found in Buenos Aires, is now added the album of the Federico Lechner Tango & Jazz Trio entitled Beboponga (2008). All the three discs are led by pianists, and on this one, Beboponga also feature Andrés Litwin (drums), Javier Moreno, Jorge Cerrato “Jato” and Pablo Martín Caminero (bass) as well as Gladston Galliza singing in track 10 (entitled “A mi madre”). In the first and last tracks Antonio Serrano whistles and plays the harmonica. Most of the compositions are by Lechner, but there are some versions of other musicians as well. The most striking is the one titled “Spike” on a Fantasy Impromptu by Frederic Chopin. The track quoted here is the first one of the disk which gives its title.
Masoud Bakhtyari (Bahman Alaeddin): Tey tum rah تی توم ره /Râh-e bârik راه باریک (Lane) (4'13"). From the CD Bahang بهنگ /Arus عروس (Bride) (2007).
The music of the Bakhtiari nomads in central Zagros, hence the bilingual, Bakhtiari and Persian titles. The lyrics are the poems of Ali Hafezi. Bahman Alaeddin begins his bilingual – Persian-Bakhtiari – blog with the presentation of this album, and also Delnavazha writes about it. Pulsating, repetitive melodies, like the ones sung by the friends of the bride while waiting for the bridegroom. Like the Sephardic Ya salió de la mar la galana was here below.
Photis Ionatos: Ithaca, on the poem Ιθάκη by Konstantinos N. Kavafis; and Verses, on the poem Στροφές by Kostas Karyotakis. From the CD Ithaque (1988).
Photis Ionatos in this CD set to music the poems of great 20th-century Greek poets. The Greek music is pervaded by the atmosphere of French chansons, which is no wonder, as Ionatos has lived in Belgium since the age of eighteen. This CD was one of our first, definitive encounters with true Greek music and modern Greek poetry. There was a time when we took very seriously this poem by Kavafis: as a memento, I have also woven it into a tale. Today the Verses already stay nearer to me. I will also translate them.
Savina Yannatou: Ya salió de la mar la galana (The lady has come out of the sea), El sueño de la hija del rey (The dream of the princess) and Los bilbilicos (The nightingales). Three songs from the CD Άνοιξη στη Σαλονίκη (Spring in Saloniki, 1995).
Savina Yannatou in her more than twenty CDs sings the traditional songs of the whole Mediterranean and even more distant lands (in one of them for example a Moldovan Hungarian – „Csángó” – song, in Hungarian). This first CD of her, presenting the results of an ethnomusicological research in Thessaloniki, was completely dedicated to the music of the once numerous and rich Sephardic population of Saloniki. We have quoted of it in three posts, also giving an English translation of their Sephardic (Ladino) text: here, here and here.
Azerbaijan Folk Ensemble: Bayati Shiraz (7'05") and Balkan Messengers, Çeçen kızı (Chechen girl) from the CD “Balkan Messengers 2”
The beautiful first piece could be also a traditional Hungarian violin solo from Transylvania, but it had been made more refined by the influence of the Persian culture to which also its title alludes. (Azerbaijan was from ancient times to 1833 a province of Persia, and its part laying to the south of the Caucasus still belongs to Iran.) We have included this on the blog margin as an illustration to our post written on Tanburi Cemil Bey’s song “The Chechen girl”, with the “Caucasian beauties” in mind. The above piece of the Balkan Messengers is the most beautiful version of this latter, but you are suggested to listen to the other versions as well in the same post.
Mohammad Reza Lotfi: Âvâz-e Bayât-e Esfahân (27'58"), tar; tonbak accompaniment by Nâsser Farhangfar, from the CD Parvâz-e Esgh (The flight of love); and Raghs-e Parandegân (The dance of birds) (7'07") tar solo from the CD Ramz-e Esgh (The mysteries of love).
I wanted to continue the bird thread, this is why I have chosen exactly The dance of birds by Lotfi, the great old man of Persian music who has long since been living and teaching in Los Angeles and only rarely goes home to give a concert which at these times becomes a national feast, like in this May in Tehran at which I was unable to attend, my heart was broken. Unfortunately, exactly this dance of the birds is only a low quality pirate registration of a Copenhagen concert, this is why you have to listen first to the improvisation in Isfahan mode, so that you could imagine its forcefulness also in the birds piece. Lotfi’s style is markedly different from that of Alizadeh, within the same traditional Persian lute music. And then you have not yet heard the other Persian lute players whose pieces I’m about to publish here for new knots.
Hossein Alizadeh: Horizon, setar solo; and Birds, on which Homa Niknam sings.
Here you are some more of Hossein Alizadeh, the first and second piece from the CD Birds (پرنده ها), recorded in 2006 together with Madjid Khaladj (Iranian drums: tombak, dayre, daf) and with Homa Niknam (voice). The apropos of its inclusion was this post with birds. You should listen to the two pieces one after the other, without interruption, as they also play it on the CD.
Taberna Mylaensis: Fammi ristari ‘nto menzu di to braccia (4'10")
The Taberna Mylaensis („Tavern of Milazzo”) has been researching and singing Sicilian folk music since 1975. In Italy they have become a legend, the synonym of Sicily. This beautiful love song, Let me rest in your arms is from their first disk of 1976. I will soon publish its original text together with its translation.
Soheil Nafisi: شهابها و شبها – Shahâbhâ va shabhâ – Comets and nights
Of this song, the poem of one of the greatest modern Persian poets Mehdi Akhavan Sales (1928-1991) I have no mp3 version. You can only see and hear it in a video version here, where I also give an English translation and add some commentary on the subtleties of Persian poetry.
Dusán and Zorán Sztevanovity: There was a dance (from the CD Az élet dolgai, 1991) (5'46")
In the first post of our thread opened with the title “History sung” we included some songs by the Zorán Sztevanovity from the Hungary of the 70s and 80s, you are suggested to go over there and listen to all of them. The source of this There was a dance, the Take this waltz by Leonard Cohen and its flamenco version by Enrique Moreno have been presented here.
Wang Wei: 陽關三疊 Three variations of the Yang Pass - Wu Wenguang, guqin solo (5'35")
This famous song composed by Wang Wei – whose volume of poems from the times of the Tang Dynasty gave name to our blog – as a farewell poem to his friend Yuan Er leaving for a mission to the Western barbarians over the Yang Pass, was worked up several times, and it became a distinguished piece of the repertoire of guqin, the Chinese zither. The “three variations” refers to the fact that it was traditionally repeated in three different versions. We have recently published its text with translation and with some comments.
The Yang Pass border station stood only 70 kilometers from Dunhuang. Aurel Stein, when a thousand and five hundred years later arrived here from the West, explored the sand-buried settlements of those very barbarians visited by Yuan Er on his mission.
Kulin ban: Žali Zare da žalimo (Cry, Sara, cry for me), 2006 (2'08")
and N. Constantinopoulos: Εβράδυν παληοβράδυν κι ο ώλιος έδυσε (Evening, evil evening, the sun set down) (4'02")
The first one is a Serbian folk song from the Turkish period, in a beautiful a capella version. Here I also include its video clip and English translation, with the second song of the medieval Greek border guards as a footnote, and with a historical note on the Balkans where we live.
Bach: The Art of the Fugue, Contrapunctus 1 - Fretwork (3'09")
I have been trying to find a a good chamber music version of the Art of the Fugue. It is not easy at all. This piece – just like the Musical Offer – is usually performed either too mechanically, or too sentimentally. The Fretwork on this a CD managed to remain in the middle, in a very elegant way. Now I only need a similarly fine chamber version of the Musical Offer.
Klezmatics: Shnirele perele (6'11") (from the CD Rhythm & Jews) and Woody Guthrie: Come When I Call You (4'25") (from the CD Wonder Wheel)
I like very much the Klezmatics. The text of the first song can be read here (in Yiddish original and with an English translation), while that of the other here, both with some commentary.
Hossein Alizadeh - Kayhan Kalhor - Mohammad Reza Shajarian: Zemestan ast (“It’s Winter”), 3rd and 4rd movements (15'39")
From the Californian concert recording of 2001 of the three great performers of classical Persian music. The poem of the great modern Persian author Mehdi Akhavan Sales (1928-1991) giving the title to this CD is sung by Shajarian. You can listen to the rest of the CD here or also here, where the texts too are published in Persian. (I will translate them in a next post.) Another version of the introducing tune played by Alizadeh and Kalhor can be heard here in the performance of two other great masters, Parviz Meshkatian and Shahram Nazeri.
Bach, Gavotte I and II from the 3rd English Suite, played by András Schiff (3'21")
One of the several performances of these two Gavottes with which I have counterpointed the Rumi-CD by Davood Azad. It is worth to listen the other versions as well.
Le Vieux Gaultier: La Poste (the last movement of Suite in d minor) - Hopkinson Smith, lute (1'30")
Hopkinson Smith is one of the greatest living musicians. On this CD he plays the lute suites of the 16th-century Ennemond Gaultier. You can find his full discography here.
Hossein Alizadeh: Mahtâb / Esfahân (16'26")
Hossein Alizadeh is one of the best classical Persian musicians, playing on various Iranian lutes. In Iran his manuals are used in the teaching of saz and tar. On this CD he improvises in four classical Persian modes on the lute called sallâneh, designed by himself.