27 October 2010

From now till December it's Persian Percussion Fortnight on the Komodo Dragon Show. This week: Madjid Khaladj unpacks his trunk, from âyineh' to zang. Persian classical music is the daughter of classical poetry. "The poem chosen for a musical composition is the essential spring from which the music's tones and rhythms flow." And percussion masters conjure melodies on what are essentially instruments of indefinite pitch.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:00am

1. Anthologie des rythmes iraniens Vol.2 (rec. 1999)
Madjid Khaladj - daf [frame drum] , dayreh [small frame drum] & zang-é saringôshti - [finger cymbals]
Buda Records, 92741-2

Set #2 - 9:00am - 10:00am

2. Nafas: Infinite Breath (rec. 2005)
Madjid Khaladj - tombak [goblet drum out of wood], daf, dayreh, zang-é saringôshti, dohôl [double-headed drum], tombak-é zukhâneh [goblet drum out of clay], senj [large brass cymbals], zang [bell], zanguleh [small bell], âyineh' pil [large metal drum] & voice
Bâ Music Records, BACD3

Set #3 - 10:00am - 11:00am

3. Percussions d'Iran (rec. 2000)
Madjid Khaladj - tombak, daf, dayreh, zang-é saringôshti & voice
Buda Records, 1978152

(And now for something completely different... Galileo's father.)
4. Vincenzo Galilei: Calliope (1584)

5. Vincenzo Galilei: Ricercare del primo tuono per b quadro (1583)

6. Vincenzo Galilei: Ricercare a quattro voci di B. M. (1583)

7. Vincenzo Galilei: Ricercare del secondo tuono per b quadro (1583)

Tracks 4-7
Andrea Damiani - lute
Vincenzo Galilei: Fronimo: Dialogo sopra l'Arte del bene intavolare et rettamente sonare la Musica
Stradivarius, STR 33482

20 October 2010

The A to Z of Alizâdeh, today, on Alizâdeh Day, eh? Join me for three hours of Persian lute music, on three kinds of lute.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:00am

1. Improvisations in Avâz-e Esfahân (rec. 2000)
Hossein Alizâdeh - tar, Madjid Khaladj - tombak
Iran: Les maîtres de l'improvisation
Buda Records, 1986082
(Tar = a six-string long-necked lute played with a plectrum, the "favourite instrument of last century's great masters," sports a body that (probably not coincidentally) looks like two hearts joined at the tip. Esfahân mode "evoke[s] love and separation.")

Set #2 - 9:00am - 10:00am

Improvisation in Dastgâh-e Navâ (rec. 1993)
Hossein Alizâdeh - setar, Madjid Khaladj - tombak
Alizâdeh Live at the Los Angeles Festival
Kereshmeh Records, KCD-105
(Setar = a four-string lute with a "delicacy and intimate sonority, ...the preferred instrument of Sufi mystics." Navâ mode is "rather serene and meditative.")

Set #3 - 10:00am - 11:00am

3. Une épopée spirituelle (rec. intermittently 1960-71)
Ostad Elahi - tanbur & voice
Une épopée spirituelle: L'art du luth oriental tanbur
Le chant du monde, 7741432

(Tanbur = three-string lute, "the ancestor of most [Iranian] plucked, string instruments," "a sacred instrument associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran." A suite in four movements, assembled from a decade's worth of private recordings, traverses "the fundamental states of the soul: loss, nostalgia, separation, as well as union and return" via archaic and religious melodies, finishing with a dance tune. "The domains of the secular and sacred are not as clear-cut in eastern culture as they are in the occidental world." I will deliver my lecture on paying attention soon. In the meantime, see this story from the BBC here.)

13 October 2010

The October surprise is here! The October surprise is here!

But first, who said this: "The social situation has changed and now the youth are after simple things. They have not learned to listen to classical music in their childhood or even at schools. Classical pieces are like classic literature and not many people have the time to read and comprehend literature. I believe if the public sector or other sponsors do not take action, we will not perform any of these kinds of works in the near future."?

Those are the words of Armenian-Iranian composer and conductor Loris Tjeknavorian, interviewed on the occasion of his being awarded the "Austrian Presidential Gold Medal of Merit" in 2008. Apparently youth are going to hell in a handbasket all over the globe.

Tjeknavorian (he hasn't answered my emails)'s opera Rostam & Sohrab is based on a tragic episode from the Shâhnameh, the 1000-year-old Persian national epic, where the hero Rostam kills his long-lost son on the battlefield. "The battle has been fought and the son has been vanquished by his father.... When the Iranians finally discovered the grief-stricken Rostam, he tried to kill himself but they restrained him." Well, what did you expect, a happy ending?

The motion picture Half Moon could be subtitled Road to Iraqi Kurdistan, with the Dorothy Lamour part taken by... well, the regime doesn't permit women to sing in public.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:30am

1. Loris Tjeknavorian: Rostam & Sohrab
Text from the Shâhnameh by Ferdowsi (late 10th-early 11th century)
Loris Tjeknavorian - conductor, Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Konstantin Simonyan - Rostam, Sarkis Torsyan - Sohrab, Gayane Grigoryan - Tahmineh, Arnold Kocharyan - King of Samangan & Afrasaib, Surik Zurabyan - narrator
Hermes Records, HER-003

Set #2 - 9:30am - 11:00am

2. Hossein Alizadeh: Half Moon/Nive Mang (2007)
Hamavayan Ensemble: Parvin Namazi - voice; Mostafa Mohammadi - voice; Reza Askarzadeh - duduk [double reed]; Ali Boustan - oud; Nima Alizadeh - robab [short-necked lute]; Saba Alizadeh - kamancheh [spike fiddle] & qeychak [bowed string instrument]; Ali Rahimi - daf [frame drum] & percussion; Hossein Alizadeh - diwan [?]
Half Moon/Nive Mang Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Bâ Music Records, BACD7

3. Loris Tjeknavorian: Danses fantastiques (1961)
Loris Tjeknavorian - conductor, Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra

06 October 2010

The Komodo Dragon Show is pre-empted this week due to renovations at UMFM master control. I'll return to the air with an October surprise next Wednesday at the usual time: 8-11am CT, and the usual frequency: 101.5 / www.umfm.com. Details about ordering the limited-edition collectors' mugs and T-shirts will be available soon. Check and comment on the design here: http://theartofgregoakes.blogspot.com/2010/08/komodo-dragon-show.html