Françoise Atlan - Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies
Françoise Atlan's Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies was released in 1995 and re-issued in 1996 on the Buda - Musique Du Monde label, and was the first installment of a three disc series of Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish) song by Francoise Atlan. (Reviews of the other two volumes will follow shortly.)
Francoise Atlan is one of Morocco's leading singers not only of Sephardi but also Arabic song and enjoys huge popularity among both Jewish and Muslim communities. Ms. Atlan is gifted with a most outstanding voice, sweet but not overly so, at once firm and strong and delicate, and endowed with a great spiritual quality. This lady could sing gangsta rap and make it sound good!
On Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies, Françoise Atlan puts her vocal gifts to fine use to present a collection of Ladino kantigas and romancas. Now, some Ladino song afficionados, especially those not familiar with this singer, might somewhat hesitate at seeing a guitar credit on this album. Don't be misled by this, there isn't a hint of "flamenco" guitar anywhere. Think of it substituting for an 'ud (Arabic, "lute", also oud), where it is used. Some of the other instrumentation might also be considered somewhat "unconventional" in the context of Ladino song, but far from being detracting, it is used with utmost sensitivity. More often, the instrumentation is very conventional, consisting of only frame drum or ney (Middle Eastern reed flute) by way of example. The arrangements on Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies often have a contemporary touch to them, but they are most tasteful and sensitive, beautiful and elegant, subtle, even understated. In her own distinct way, Francoise Atlan breathes new life into these ancient (at any rate, the lyrics tend to be medieval) kantigas and romancas. These songs come straight from the heart, and a deep spirituality pervades. This is music for the heart and soul, as well as the ear. It goes straight to your innermost being, sending tingles up and down your spine. Its beauty is as that of a delicate flower bathed in dew and the early morning sunshine, its delicate scent carried on the cool refreshing morning breeze, reawakening long-lost memories, gently rousing some indefinable nostalgia.
A thoroughly consistent album, there isn't a weak track in sight on Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies. Together with its two companion volumes, it should be considered essential in any Ladino/Sephardi collection, and even on its own Françoise Atlan's Sephardic Songs - Romances Sefardies makes for an invaluable addition in any such collection. Of course, as always, great music such as this is universal and thus has a place in any comprehensive collection. I certainly wouldn't be without it.
NB - Please note that both "Françoise Atlan" and "Francoise Atlan" spellings have been used in order to better facilitate searches.
© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.