The music here is so transfixing, intensely devotional and sublimely beautiful, that some contemporary listeners thought they were levitating. Drawn from recordings made in Istanbul by the Gramophone Company and HMV, during the first three decades of the twentieth century, amidst the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, it crosses and mixes the folk and classical heritage of Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Gypsies, Muslims, Christians and Jews, urbanites and country people, and the demands of tradition and modernity, musical improvisation, composition and system. Most of the singers are hafiz, versed in a musical reading of the Koran, and renowned for mastery of the exalted, improvisatory form of the gazel. There are several magnificent examples here, by legendary artists. Three of our gazelhans beautifully interpret folk songs, and another contributor, the folklorist Agyazar Efendi, sings a long Armenian air with utter authenticity, but in the style of a gazel. Exemplifying the new political freedoms of the Republic, there are two heart melting female vocal performances of a kind of art song called sarki. Also featured is the taksim, a kind of improvisation in which one off musical fireworks, designed to ravish the listener's soul, illuminate deep fluency in the makam. A who's who of the pre eminent instrumentalists of this first halfcentury of Turkish recording, in performances which are simply stunning- breath taking, exquisite and other worldly.