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Explorer Series: Java - Court Gamelan Vol II Original recording remastered

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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 Mar. 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000084T5J
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 723,869 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

The music of the great bronze orchestras of four royal courts defines the tradition and exemplifies the highest artistic standard for thousands of similar, if less resplendent, gamelans in the towns and villages of Central Java. Although the origins of these large ensembles of carefully fashioned gongs and metallophones are prehistoric, most derive stylistically from the 18th century, a period of warfare, internecine warfare and political unrest. The instruments heard in this recording and the particular musical heritage that they represent reflect the unique position of the Mangkunegaran court as it developed over a period of more than 200 years.

Recorded at the Istana Mangkunegaran, Sarakaria by Robert E Brown. Originally released in 1977.

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Format: Audio CD
This is the second recording in the Court Gamelan series by Robert Brown, this time from the Istana Mangkunegaran in Solo. A third CD is also available.
It was originally released in 1977. As on the first CD, there are two long and two short pieces. The Puspawarna to start bodes well for the rest of the disc, a good clear recording with all the individual instruments audible - good to hear the Gambang and Celempung clearly.
Kyai Kanyut Mesem is a very old gamelan, and parts of it are not played - being considered sacred.
The female singers include Nyi Toekinem, who also features on other recordings
(Rebab and Female singing of Central Javanese Gamelan, for example).
Next track is Gendhing Bonang Babar Layar - I'm not a great fan of Gendhing Bonang, but this sounds solid with great crescendos.
Gendhing Ela Ela Kalibeber follows in typical soft instruments style. The Gender is clearly heard, and would be ideal for someone learning this difficult instrument! The piece concludes with the usual pathetan.
Brown has incorporated a mixture of Slendro and Pelog tuning, along with 3 of the modes in these well-balanced recordings which are helped by the wonderful hall in which they were recorded.
Ayak Ayakan Kaloran concludes the pieces, in slendro Manyura - the catchy vocal is quite tempting to join in with - its quite short, with only a couple of drum beats for introduction, which betrays its origin in Wayang (Shadow puppet play)
Unfortunately, there are no twittering birds in this recording, but only some "happy croaking of Javanese frogs, enjoying the puddles left outside by a recent downpour" at the very end of the CD.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome follow up... 27 Jun. 2003
By J P V Guffogg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the second recording in the Court Gamelan series by Robert Brown, this time from the Istana Mangkunegaran in Solo. A third CD is also available.
It was originally released in 1977. As on the first CD, there are two long and two short pieces. The Puspawarna to start bodes well for the rest of the disc, a good clear recording with all the individual instruments audible - good to hear the Gambang and Celempung clearly.
Kyai Kanyut Mesem is a very old gamelan, and parts of it are not played - being considered sacred.
The female singers include Nyi Toekinem, who also features on other recordings
(Rebab and Female singing of Central Javanese Gamelan, for example).
Next track is Gendhing Bonang Babar Layar - I'm not a great fan of Gendhing Bonang, but this sounds solid with great crescendos.
Gendhing Ela Ela Kalibeber follows in typical soft instruments style. The Gender is clearly heard, and would be ideal for someone learning this difficult instrument! The piece concludes with the usual pathetan.
Brown has incorporated a mixture of Slendro and Pelog tuning, along with 3 of the modes in these well-balanced recordings which are helped by the wonderful hall in which they were recorded.
Ayak Ayakan Kaloran concludes the pieces, in slendro Manyura - the catchy vocal is quite tempting to join in with - its quite short, with only a couple of drum beats for introduction, which betrays its origin in Wayang (Shadow puppet play)
Unfortunately, there are no twittering birds in this recording, but only some "happy croaking of Javanese frogs, enjoying the puddles left outside by a recent downpour" at the very end of the CD.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Recording 26 Nov. 2009
By Peter Just - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Javanese classical music has had an important,though subtle, influence on Western music for quite some time, especially in modern classical music and modern jazz. The gamelan orchestra, made up primarily of bronze metallophones and gongs with the addition of a spike fiddle and bamboo flute, is often also accompanied by vocalists. Gamelan orchestras are integral to the performances of shadow plays (wayang kulit) and court dance, but also perform in concert by themselves. The instruments are created to be played together; since there is no standardized tuning and the pitch of the instruments cannot be changed, each gamelan has a unique sound. Gamelan music reaches its pinnacle in the orchestras attached to the courts of the sultans of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) in central Java, where they are considered treasures of the realm and an important spiritual resource of the ruler. The music is not so much about melodic line as it is about the complex and subtle interweaving of tonal cycles. The sound is soft and refined in comparison to the more percussive sound of Balinese gamelan.

This album is one of three recorded in the 1970s presenting the great court gamelans of Solo and Yogyakarta in Central Java, the ground zero of Javanese high culture. Of the three, this one is my favorite and as another review has noted, the gendhing bonan Babar Layar, "Setting the Sail" is the finest. If you want an introduction to one of the world's great musical traditions, you could do no better than this album and if you want to start with a single track, Babar Layar is the one.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Setting The Sail" - a review of only ONE track 21 Sept. 2009
By frater SODDI - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderfully performed and recorded CD from the old Nonesuch label. The 21 minute track "Gending Bonang Babar Layar (Setting The Sail)" has been one of my favorite pieces of music for DECADES. It is a textbook lesson in gamelan theory - read the liner notes while listening. It is some the STONGEST playing I have ever heard from musicians East or West. And when the lead bonang (which I think is the conducting instrument)sounds out the notes of the main theme and propels the orchestra into faster and faster iterations of this theme leading to this piece's conclusion - it is absolutely magnificent. It's chilling. Oh, and the rest of the album is pretty good, too. This CD belongs in the music library of any truly civilized human.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars court music at its best 20 May 2009
By Douglas G. Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Gamelan is an acquired taste, but, if you are familiar with these orchestras and their ethereal percussion, you will like this CD. It is a CD you will listen to over and over for the subtleties of its form, the spine-shivering pleasures it brings. It is court music at its best. Close your eyes and bliss out!
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