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Mugam Sayagi

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 11, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For more than a decade, Kronos Quartet has championed the dramatic and deeply passionate work of Azerbaijani composer and pianist Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. This maverick artist defied the strictures of the classical training she received in her formerly Soviet-occupied home-land to combine ideas gleaned from the 20th century music of the west with the long-neglected Azerbiajiani tradition of mugam. The album title Mugam Sayagi means "in the style of mugam," and that aptly describes the three commissioned pieces Ali-Zadeh wrote for Kronos Quartet.

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is equally at home in the world of Western moderns and the culture of her homeland, Azerbaijan. The disc's title means "in the style of mugam," a sophisticated, emotional form of traditional music and poetry. The first piece, Oasis, begins in mystery, with the sound of dripping water, and builds to a dreamland of turbulent, slashing strings and shimmering chords: a mirage universe in its concentrated 13-minute span. The composer is at the piano for her Apsheron Quintet, whose 2nd movement is a gorgeous otherworldly evocation. Music for Piano is a solo exploration notable for turning the middle register of the instrument into a stand-in for the "tar," a brilliant-sounding lute-like instrument. Finally, Mugam Sayagi is a string quartet that discreetly incorporates a drone, synthesizer, and local instruments. It features a mournfully moving opening section and odd juxtapositions such as innocent folk dances instantly turning into aggressive battle music. Ali-Zadeh is a composer with much to say who says it well, aptly partnered by the committed playing of the Kronos Quartet, which gives us another of its many stimulating discs. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Performer: Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Kronos Quartet, Scott Fraser
  • Audio CD (January 11, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0006IIPMG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,788 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Brown on January 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Everything about this presentation of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh's music is beautiful, right down to the cover art of the CD (Black Bird by Ali Dadgar). You can tell right from the start that what this CD has is some beautiful music from a rich land.

Though the liner notes say that Franghiz tries to avoid the exotic, her music whispers, sometimes moans, of longing and thirst for beauty in a parched land. She avoids the sultry and the barbaric presentations of her music from past composers, and in turn creates something even more exotic and austere.

The first piece, Oasis opens up with the sound of dripping water, followed by a slow whispering entrance of the quartet itself. The instruments become more focused and present, using the modes of the Azeri mugam, and build towards a startling climax that ushers in a chorus of whispers. It is at turns beautiful and quietly desperate, but in the end becomes what it was - an oasis, a mirage, an open sounding, hollow fifth, and then nothing.

The rest of the album follows suit with Franghiz herself on the piano. Changes in mood are very sporadic in this music because that is the way the Mugam are handled in Azeri hands, giving the impression of many scenes or shifting adventures in search of some thing that is lost.

Although I have no other recordings to base this off, the performance sounds excellent. The piano is performed by the composer herself, so one can assume this is the definitive edition of these works.

Another excellent recording from the Kronos Quartet, this time with true gems of pieces.
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Format: Audio CD
The Azeri composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh has been talked about more and more over the last two decades, but appearances of her music on disc are still rare. Kronos Quartet, who brought Ali-Zadeh to great attention by including "Muyam Saghi" on their 1993 album NIGHT PRAYERS, has now dedicated an entire CD to her work. The composer herself appears as pianist on two of the pieces.

"Muyam Saghi" for string quartet (1993) is the finest of the pieces here. Inspired by the music of Muslim troubadours who cloaked their love for a woman in the language of religious ecstasy, the quartet has a strong dramatic element. The bowings of the solo cello in the opening are meant to suggest the muezzin's call to prayer. Slowly but steadily the music builds to an hubub of activity, with erotic interplays of various members of the quartet. Though a long piece at over twenty minutes, the pacing is very well thought out and there's not a bum note here.

Unfortunately, while none of the following pieces are unlistenable, I don't find much in the way of compelling musical content in them. Two simply go on and on without varying much from the way the piece began. "Music for Piano" (1997) has the piano prepared so that it sounds like some notes are from a standard piano and others from a harpsichord. Its "dissonances" and occasional thunderous passages may nonetheless appeal to fans of Rautavaara's Piano Concerto No. 2. "Oasis" for string quartet and tape (1998) begins with pizzicato on the strings and the sound of splashing water. The sounds of water eventually fade, and the bulk of the work has ascending and descending scales played pizzicato on two instruments while the other two strings delight in sul arco lyricism.
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Format: Audio CD
Wow! A Kronos CD with over 60 minutes of music and good liner notes. They actually discuss the composer and the music. Maybe Kronos reads Amazon reviews afterall.

But it's still a bit overpriced so wait until the price drops a few dollars and Marketplace sellers start offering this for $8.50. With shipping the total cost will be about $11 and it will be worth buying.
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By MDP on December 14, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is a nice CD, but not the best of Kronos Quartet. I was expecting something very different.
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