Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Iran - Persian Classical Music
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
Listen to Samples
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The Real Stuff!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The photo on the cover of this CD is totally disingenuous. Persian classical music is not folk music, certainly not the music of the impoverished villagers. It's a highly refined, ancient art of the educated classes. Together with Greek music carried as far as India by Alexander the Great, it's the founding tradition of everything since in the extended world of Islam. But of course we have no way except by inference and intuition to know what it sounded like, even a few hundred years ago let alone two thousand five hundred. The sounds you'll hear on this CD are not often heard even in Iran today. Euro-pop has crushed what military and political mistakes have not.
Immediately in the first track, you'll hear tonal intervals never used in European music - quarter tones and bent pitches - and you'll either be entranced or utterly bored. "You pays yo money 'n you takes yo chances." The instrument is the santur, a hammered zither that requires intense study and practice and that is the princely solo instrument of Iranian music. The form - it's not formless, believe me - is the extended improvisation on a classical tone row, not unlike a raga in Indian classical music, beginning meditatively and exploratorily and becoming more and more virtuosic. Eventually hand drums enter. The drummer on this CD is superb at fiery counterrhythms. Other tracks feature a bowed instrument and a plucked long-necked lute, but essentially this is "monody" in the sense used in European Medieval music. Persian influence may even have been carried into Europe via Muslim Sicily; the very few instrumental monodies called saltarellos that have survived from pre-Renaissance Italy sound quite a lot like Persian music. This is music of the here-and-now, not meant to be remembered architecturally like European music but rather to be savoured just in the moment of hearing. I suppose it could also be "mood" music for a moon-lit patio under palm trees, but I prefer to listen fully.
The current CD is decades old, an ethnographic issue originally, but it's still the best example of Persian music I've ever encountered. Iran is not (merely) a land of raging religious fanaticism; it's an ancient, sophisticated, and intriguing culture. I look forward to a time - perhaps as soon as January, 2008 - when America will establish respectful dialogue with the Iranian people and allow fruitful exchange."
Over the cubicle wall and across international boundaries
Paula Carr | 03/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard a bit of Persian music on the radio driving to lunch one day, and I didn't want to leave the car when I got to the restaurant because the music was so hypnotic and beautiful.I know very little about Persian music, so when I returned to work, I asked an Iranian friend and cubicle neighbor if she had any CDs I good borrow to get a taste. This is one of the CDs she passed over the cubicle wall.I played it last night and loved it. Anyone who loves music will be entranced by this CD. My favorite piece last night was Dastgah Mahour, but depending on my mood, any one of them could be my favorite. There are no less than wonderful tracks."
A Haunting Performance by Virtuosos
Robert Bokkon | Bowling Green, Ky United States | 05/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am a new convert to so-called "world music", I know there's no turning back now. After listening to this CD continually for the last two days, I've found myself desperately searching Amazon for more Persian music, and the web for more information about this fabulous group. The vocalist's ululating, almost pained voice seems a haunting precursor of the dark times that lay ahead (the album was recorded in 1974, five years before the rise of the mad Ayatollah and his fundamentalist government) and there is a palpable, frenetic urgency to the musicians' playing. The liner notes contain enough information for the listener to understand the instruments used and the forms of Persian classical music, although the black and white photographs of the players and their instruments are rather too small. The cover photograph, however, is beautiful and intriguing. In short, a perfect introduction to Persian music for the novice listener."