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Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Kronos Quartet, Scott Fraser
Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is equally at home in the world of Western moderns and the culture of her homeland, Azerbaijan. The disc's title means "in the style of mugam," a sophisticated, emotional form of traditional music and po...  more »


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All Artists: Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Kronos Quartet, Scott Fraser
Title: Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Nonesuch
Release Date: 1/11/2005
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075597980424

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is equally at home in the world of Western moderns and the culture of her homeland, Azerbaijan. The disc's title means "in the style of mugam," a sophisticated, emotional form of traditional music and poetry. The first piece, Oasis, begins in mystery, with the sound of dripping water, and builds to a dreamland of turbulent, slashing strings and shimmering chords: a mirage universe in its concentrated 13-minute span. The composer is at the piano for her Apsheron Quintet, whose 2nd movement is a gorgeous otherworldly evocation. Music for Piano is a solo exploration notable for turning the middle register of the instrument into a stand-in for the "tar," a brilliant-sounding lute-like instrument. Finally, Mugam Sayagi is a string quartet that discreetly incorporates a drone, synthesizer, and local instruments. It features a mournfully moving opening section and odd juxtapositions such as innocent folk dances instantly turning into aggressive battle music. Ali-Zadeh is a composer with much to say who says it well, aptly partnered by the committed playing of the Kronos Quartet, which gives us another of its many stimulating discs. --Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

Mugam Sayagi
David Brown | Marlton, NJ United States | 01/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everything about this presentation of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh's music is beautiful, right down to the cover art of the CD (Black Bird by Ali Dadgar). You can tell right from the start that what this CD has is some beautiful music from a rich land.

Though the liner notes say that Franghiz tries to avoid the exotic, her music whispers, sometimes moans, of longing and thirst for beauty in a parched land. She avoids the sultry and the barbaric presentations of her music from past composers, and in turn creates something even more exotic and austere.

The first piece, Oasis opens up with the sound of dripping water, followed by a slow whispering entrance of the quartet itself. The instruments become more focused and present, using the modes of the Azeri mugam, and build towards a startling climax that ushers in a chorus of whispers. It is at turns beautiful and quietly desperate, but in the end becomes what it was - an oasis, a mirage, an open sounding, hollow fifth, and then nothing.

The rest of the album follows suit with Franghiz herself on the piano. Changes in mood are very sporadic in this music because that is the way the Mugam are handled in Azeri hands, giving the impression of many scenes or shifting adventures in search of some thing that is lost.

Although I have no other recordings to base this off, the performance sounds excellent. The piano is performed by the composer herself, so one can assume this is the definitive edition of these works.

Another excellent recording from the Kronos Quartet, this time with true gems of pieces."
Very interesting music
Redgecko | USA | 12/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Wow! A Kronos CD with over 60 minutes of music and good liner notes. They actually discuss the composer and the music. Maybe Kronos reads Amazon reviews afterall.

But it's still a bit overpriced so wait until the price drops a few dollars and Marketplace sellers start offering this for $8.50. With shipping the total cost will be about $11 and it will be worth buying.

Not really bad music, but uncompelling and the best has alre
Christopher Culver | 09/11/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The Azeri composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh has been talked about more and more over the last two decades, but appearances of her music on disc are still rare. Kronos Quartet, who brought Ali-Zadeh to great attention by including "Muyam Saghi" on their 1993 album NIGHT PRAYERS, has now dedicated an entire CD to her work. The composer herself appears as pianist on two of the pieces.

"Muyam Saghi" for string quartet (1993) is the finest of the pieces here. Inspired by the music of Muslim troubadours who cloaked their love for a woman in the language of religious ecstasy, the quartet has a strong dramatic element. The bowings of the solo cello in the opening are meant to suggest the muezzin's call to prayer. Slowly but steadily the music builds to an hubub of activity, with erotic interplays of various members of the quartet. Though a long piece at over twenty minutes, the pacing is very well thought out and there's not a bum note here.

Unfortunately, while none of the following pieces are unlistenable, I don't find much in the way of compelling musical content in them. Two simply go on and on without varying much from the way the piece began. "Music for Piano" (1997) has the piano prepared so that it sounds like some notes are from a standard piano and others from a harpsichord. Its "dissonances" and occasional thunderous passages may nonetheless appeal to fans of Rautavaara's Piano Concerto No. 2. "Oasis" for string quartet and tape (1998) begins with pizzicato on the strings and the sound of splashing water. The sounds of water eventually fade, and the bulk of the work has ascending and descending scales played pizzicato on two instruments while the other two strings delight in sul arco lyricism. The "Aspheron Quintet" for string quartet and piano (2001) certainly ranges over a wide variety of sounds. The opening movement, "Tactile Time", is as frenetic and buzzing as the second movement, "Reverse Time" is slow and contemplative. I was impressed by the virtuoso demands made of the string players in the opening movement, but I find the harmonic language of the piece rather unexciting.

Certainly one who already has the Kronos Quartet Night Prayers album has heard the best of Ali-Zadeh recorded on disc, and I am reluctant to recommend this."