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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 24 August 2017
Best of all
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on 8 February 2010
This is a stunning CD of music written in the 17th century and performed (largely)in the palaces of Istanbul. It reflects the melting pot nature of the city of the time, including as it does, music from the Jewish tradition. The quality of the recording is superb with excellent balance throughout. The musical performances are of the highest order. The CD is lavishly packaged (in multiple language versions) with detailed and educated notes on both the history, the music and composer. Note this recording was funded by DG Education and Culture of the European Commission great use of European funding recognising the complex history of Europe and the near East.
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on 24 October 2011
I just love this recording, unconditionally.

I am a relatively late comer to the marvellous series of Alia Vox recordings of Jordi Savall, in which he offers eclectic historic, ethnic and world music collections with the Hesperion XXI- and other- groups. But now I have now grown seriously addicted!

This recent addition to the series - Instanbul, Dmitrie Cantemir and the Book of the Science of Music- sounds like a bit of a musicological nightmare, does it not? Wrong!

If I were to try to describe this recording with one word, that would probably be `impeccable' - sonically, musically and musicologically.

At the time of Cantemir, around 1670 to 1720, the Ottoman Empire had reached a cultural highpoint, before its eventual stagnation, decay and collapse. Crucially,, it was open to a variety of civilisations and religions, with its music in particular open to strong Armenian and Sephardic traditions; after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, many Jews had settled in this relatively tolerant society.

This SACD offers music from this cultural melting pot: - often it is strange, bewitching and hypnotic, but it is never less than interesting. The playing, including that of many Turkish masters, is impeccable.

As with all the later DSD Alia Vox recordings I have heard this far, the sound from the SACD layers is quite beautiful; spacious, detailed, natural and refined.

There are two more aspects I must mention. This is clearly a labour of love, with a lush and informative multi-lingual booklet, beautifully researched and presented. In fact, this is relatively restrained; double or triple sets in this series are often presented in lavish books. Someone really cares about these recordings, evidently!

Lastly, this recording is a musical journey, and -as in many journeys - you often learn something about distant and strange cultures. No bad thing, that! In fact, the whole Savall `project' strikes me as an ear-opening journey through ancient, world and ethnic music.

If you have any interest in expanding your musical horizons, therefore, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
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on 4 March 2010
Anyone who has been to Istanbul, the great city between east and west with its mixture of Roman, Byzantine and Islamic architecture and art, should buy this album. Jordi Savall, who is famous for his early music and concept albums, has brought together the sefardic, armenian and turkish musical streams and it really is excellent. Take, for example, the second tune on the album which transmits huge amounts of energy. Buy this if you are interested in world music.
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on 4 February 2010
I guess you either like this kind of music or you don't. But for me it's a terrific album, expertly put together and superbly performed. It opens up(for those totally unfamiliar with the great musical culture of the Ottomans and their Istanbuli contemporaries)a whole new world of expression and feeling. This is highly sophisticated music, yet it speaks directly to one.
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on 12 May 2010
Like the city itself, these recordings translate musically what one would expect to see / hear in this magnificent and mysterious album but still maintaining it's roots to traditional folk music.
As one would expect from Jordi Savall, great musicians, a well studied research and attention to details.
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on 28 October 2010
Jordi Savall and Comrades prove that where ideology and economics drive human beings apart, Music brings people together and twas ever thus. Wonderful to dance to, funky as anything out of motown, delightful and surprising. Sleeve notes should be part of every music curriculum and Dmitrie Cantemir's name ought to be as well known as Bach's or Peter Gabriel's. More, Get this on Radio 1 or whatever it is that young types listen to.
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on 4 May 2015
My wife bought this for me originally and it has become one of my favourite CDs. it's extraordinarily atmospheric, very subtle and very high musicianship. If you are interested in Middle Eastern influence on Western music then its for you (it's affected my Jazz improvisation a lot as well). I bought this copy for a friend who particularly likes and understand oud music.
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on 22 March 2010
As regards the music, each section has an improvisation, followed by a composition. Personally I much preferred the improvisation, which is more fluid, less rigid (of course). Others may have an opposite view. Those who prefer the improvisations could opt for a Taksim Trio album.

The booklet looks substantial - 100 pages - but is in 10 languages. It has some interesting stuff on Ottoman music and traditions (time signatures such as 48/4 ! ) but unfortunately this is general information, not targetted to the music on the album. It would have been nice to have info about each track (e.g time signature etc....), or links to a site with more info.

An opportunity to educate us has been lost!
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on 5 February 2010
This recording is an essential step in the re-building of the common cultural stock that unifies our European and Mediterranean world. Apart from the fact that the first homo sapiens occupants (Cromagnon) of Europe were of Turkic culture and language (as shown in the most recent archaeological linguistic and cultural approaches of Europe), apart from the fact that in the old Nordic saga Sigurd (the ancestor of the Germanic Siegfried) we can find Attila the Hun, of Turkic language and culture, as the king of the European kingdom east of the old Burgundy and that Siegfried's widow is quite legitimate in her marrying him, thence transforming Attila's raids in the West as a re-conquering manoeuvre more than some barbaric looting adventures, the Ottoman Empire, in its golden age under Suleyman the Great was a harbour of peace and peaceful coexistence for the Ottoman Muslims, the Greek Orthodox Christians, the Sephardi tradition of the Jewish refugees from the Iberic Peninsula running away from the Catholic re-conquest, and the Armenian Christians. And this coexistence is most visible in the field of music. That's why this recording is essential even if Jordall decided not to separate the three main traditions, Moslem, Sephardi and Armenian. It makes the following of the various styles more difficult but it also gives us the feeling of a great tolerance that goes along with shifting from one tradition to the next without the slightest problem or conflict. French Ambassador Count Saint Priest said: "Most of the Great Sultan's musical retainers [...] who are the musical elite of the Turkish Empire, are of Greek, Jewish or Armenian origin". The first remark I will do on this music is about its rhythmic nature. According to Jordall it uses seven basic rhythmic patterns, when the European music of the time only mainly used two (6/4 and 2/4 and think of the bourrée and its ternary rhythm from Bach to Mozart and then Strauss). Among these seven rhythms there are two fast ones (14/4 and 16/4) and an extremely fast one (48/4). This has to be captured in perspective with the whirling dervishes of the Melveli order. Jordall's choice not to make all instruments play together all the time enables him to have many moments when one or two instruments can play solos or duos with a basic rhythm in the background produced by one or two drums. These instruments then can develop faster rhythms within the basic slow rhythm. This is a simple form of polyrhythmia (unimaginable in Europe at the time) and yet it is surprising since we consider that polyrhythmia is typically African and that it moved to America along with the black slaves of the slave trade to produce jazz, the blues, and all the vast cosmos of rock music, including with the invention of the specific "drums" this mostly amplified music uses, and this music then came back into Western music last century and is in the perspective of being globalized in this century. It is this polyrhythmic North American tradition of polyrhythmic questioning that has come back to Europe to inspire all kinds of contemporary styles and schools, from dodecaphonist to concrete and many others in between. This corresponds to the will to rediscover the body's (not to speak of society's) existential and organic rhythms that, thanks God, cannot be reduced to the sole heart beat and what's more seen as unchanging. We must thus think that polyrhythmia had left Africa along another path than the supposedly triangular slave trade, probably the Nile and then North Africa and the two Spanish-Portuguese and Arabic peninsulas to be integrated in the Moslem culture and then to expand to the Ottoman Empire. Jordall's choice to get liberated of the constant tuttis that some impose onto this music enables Jordall to really give us a serious capture of the instruments in their originalities and their particularities. The element of variation gives to that music one more dimension of multiplicity and variety. This recording hence is trying to give back to Istanbul the fundamental crossroads role it had just two or there centuries ago. All the more reason to discover this musical world.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Vincennes Saint Denis, University of Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID Boulogne Billancourt
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