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This review is from: Mugam Sayagi (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.