The Agrin Ensemble - Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music
Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music
|Artist:||The Agrin Ensemble / Mehdi Rostami, Adib Rostami|
|Album:||Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music|
|Date of Release:||2011/07|
|Country of Release:||UK|
2. World | Trad.
|Sub-Genre/s:||1. Persian, Iranian
2. Persian, Iranian
|Date of Review:||2012/02/29|
Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music
Released last summer, Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music is The Agrin Ensemble's debut release. (Don't let the somewhat stern title put you off!) The Agrin Ensemble essentially consists of cousins Mehti Rostami, on setar and shourangiz, and Adib Rostami, on tombak. On this recording they are also joined by Soheil Razzaghi, who plays tombak on the first track, Bayat Esfahan, or Bayat-e-Esfahan.
The Agrin Ensemble are musicians in the Persian classical tradition - and, although still young are already exceptional - who bless us by being based in London, something of a rarity this! Hopefully this will help raise the profile of this amazing, wonderful tradition, without which neither the Arabic classical tradition nor the Hindustani or North Indian classical one would be what they are (the influence of Persian classical music on these, and indeed beyond, was phenomenal from about the 11th century C. E. onwards), in Britain.
The influence of this tradition extended well beyond the music itself, and, especially in northern India, had a huge impact also on the instruments. For example, the setar which we hear on Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music directly gave rise to the Hindustani sitar by it being combined with elements of the Indian rudhra been, and even lent it its name, while the tombak is often thought to have influenced the development of the tabla from the pakhavaj and its effectively being split in two to give rise to the tabla. Hindustani music today would be very different indeed without the Iranian influence. (Indeed, one has to wonder if the former would ever have come to enjoy the widespread popularity in the West that it does!)
Rostami cousins Mehdi and Adib were tutored by some of the finest masters of the tradition in Iran and beyond. Among these perhaps generally best known in the West is kemancheh (and setar) maestro as well as respected composer, Kayhan Kalhor, who has long also been involved with Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road project as well as various cross-cultural projects of his own, not least his Ghazal project with Hindustani musicians. Their musical training could hardly be of higher pedigree. Mehdi and Adib Rostami have been performing for some five years, first in Iran then internationally, and are now based in the UK.
On Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music, Mehdi and Adib Rostami present three tracks, each from a different dastgah (very broadly comparable to Arabic maqam; essentially, a modal scale but with very strictly defined melodic sequences; basically, there are twelve dastgahs, although technically, five of these are avaz or sub-classes of two dastgah). The three dastgah here are such avaz or subclasses, Bayat-e-Esfahan being an avaz of dastgah Homayoun, while Abouata and Dashti are both avaz of dastgah Shur.
On the final track, Dashti, Mehdi Rostami switches to playing solo shourangiz. This is a new development of the setar, with six instead of four strings, among other changes.
But don't let the technicalities worry you, just listen to this beautiful music and be amazed! Both the virtuosity and musicality of these players is outstanding, nay astounding, and setar player and respective tombak players display superb empathy among one another. The interpretations and improvisations take the breath away. The result is just mesmerising.
At present, Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music is only available on CD at recitals. However, there is a bonus track available with the widely available digital download version. With the latter, the first two CD tracks are split into their component parts of three and two tracks, respectively.
Entirely consistent, coherent and cohesive, Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music is just sheer magic that keeps the listener utterly spellbound. Classical Persian music of the highest order, this album above all presents hauntingly beautiful music with enormous charm, as well as often high energy, tension and excitement that are just breath-taking.
The Agrin Ensemble's Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music surely is a must have for any serious lover of any kind of classical as well as world music. You just have to hear this! Go buy!
1. Bayat Esfahan - 23:20
The Agrin Ensemble:
Mehdi Rostami - setar, shourangiz
Adib Rostami - tombak
Soheil Razzaghi - tombak
Art Of Improvisation In Iranian Music can be purchased from:
Amazon UK (MP3)
Other online sources
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