13 April 2011

People who quote Aldous Huxley's Heaven and Hell (1956) are a certain way. He writes: "[I]t is a matter of historical record that most contemplatives worked systematically to modify their body chemistry, with a view to creating the internal conditions favorable to spiritual insight.... In the intervals [between fasting and self-flagellation] they sang interminable psalms, thus increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the lungs and blood stream.... to lower the efficiency of the cerebral reducing valve...." In other words, hyperventilate, and you achieve a visionary experience.

There's so much hyperventilatin' on today's Komodo Dragon Show, from 8-11am Central Time on 101.5 in Winnipeg; http://www.umfm.com in the stream, that I don't want you to start without me.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 10:00am

1. Ioannis Koukouzelis: Kratime (14th cent.)
Lycourgos Angelopoulos - director, Greek Byzantine Choir
Ioannis Koukouzelis: The Byzantine Maestro
Jade, 73138 35809-2
(Kratime are "free compositions set to diverse syllables that make no sense, such as Te-ri-rem and Ne-ne-na and others, in lieu of a text.... [T]he substitution of free syllables to a text produces a psalmody similar to the unending psalmody of the angels in Heaven (a psalmody without words). Moreover, according to symbolic theology, it is meant to signify the incomprehensibility of the godhead." Take that, Thomas Aquinas! The cardiovascular workout of these choristers is up there in the marathon range.)

2. "Dhikr: Rituel de transe" from Transe Soufie d'Alep (rec. 2002-03)
Sheikh Habboush - voice, Ensemble Al-Kindi: Julien Jâlal Eddine Weiss - musical direction & kanun; Abdelkader Massarani, Ali Sabe, Hassan Altounji, Zacharia Muhyeddin & Jawadakh - voice; Muhammad Qadri Dalal - ud; Ziad Qadi Amin - ney; Adel Shams Eddine - riq; Yahyah Hamami - dervish
Le chant du monde, 574 1251.52
("Dhikr [zikr] means 'evocation' and it consists of the repetition of God's names within ritual patterns.... The contents of the songs raise emotional states of joy, sadness, or peace in the participants until the apex of the ceremony when many people abandon themselves to the feeling of God's love.")

Set #2 - 10:00am - 11:00am

3. Rodion Shchedrin: The Sealed Angel (1988)
Text after Nikolai Leskov (1872)
Vladimir Minin - conductor, Lolita Semenina - soprano, Natalia Belova - soprano, Tatiana Zhdanova - mezzo-soprano, Alexei Alexeyev - tenor, Andrei Azovsky - descant, Alexander Illarionov - alto, Alexander Golyshev - flute, Moscow Chamber Choir, USSR Russian Choir, Tatiana Kurpekova, Ludmila Urman & Vladimir Urman - chorus masters
Melodiya, 74321 36905 2
(The text mixes Orthodox chants with the story of a community of Old Believers – a conservative offshoot of the State Orthodox Church – and a miraculous ikon, symbolized musically by the flute. Commentators say: "Subtle, thinly veiled themes of greed, governmental oppression, and betrayal are juxtaposed with those of repentance and redemption." "This tale is a parable about the imperishable nature of beauty, the futility of power, and the immortality and power of art." Note this was composed in the final years of Communism in the USSR.)

Where to buy CDs featured on today's show:
Ioannis Koukouzelis: The Byzantine Maestro - CD Universe
Transe Soufie d'Alep - CD Universe
The Sealed Angel [a different recording] - CD Universe

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