Yehudi - Jewish Music From The Seraglio/Jewish "Early Music" in the Sephardic Tradition
Released in 1996 on the Elektra/Asylum and Teldec labels, Yehudi - Jewish Music From The Seraglio is an album of Jewish Early Music in the Sephardic tradition, specifically, Ottoman art music (Turkish classical music) of the 18th to early 20th centuries by Sephardi Jewish composers at the Ottoman court.
L'Orient Imaginaire is led by its founder and artistic director, Bulgarian-born lutist and percussionist Vladimir Ivanoff, its other principal members being Mustafa Dogan Dikmen (voice, ney, kudum [sml. kettle drums]), Ihsan Mehmet Ozer (kanun), Ahmed Kadri Rizeli (kemence rumi [Roman fiddle]), and Mehmet Cemal Yeslcay (ud, or oud). Ivanoff studied musicology, the other musicians come from a background at Turkish classical conservatories. The standard of musicianship and virtuosity is impeccable, matched by superb empathy among the players.
As far as this reviewer is aware, Yehudi - Jewish Music From The Seraglio is the first album of Turkish classical music to focus specifically on Sephardi Jewish composers, although numerous albums of Turkish classical music exist that include works by Jewish composers. The selection presented here is excellent in its range, covering as it does a period of some two centuries, as well as in the quality of the compositions, which are among the finest examples of Ottoman art music. A deep spirituality pervades this beautiful and beautifully performed music, and while the full gamut of emotions is explored, the prevailing mood is one of exquisite, yet calm, quiet ecstasy. L'Orient Imaginaire succeed brilliantly in bringing this wonderful music alive, reaching out to the ear as well as the heart.
The liner notes are superb and provide a brief history of the Sephardic Jews in Turkey as well as introductions to the instruments and Ottoman art music, and of course an overview of the composers represented.
Essential in any collection of Jewish music in general and Sephardi music in particular, as well as of Ottoman art music of course, Yehudi - Jewish Music From The Seraglio like all great music also has universal appeal. This album is exquisite.
© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.
Mustafa Dogan Dikmen, voice, ney, kudum (sml. kettle drums)
Ihsan Mehmet Ozer, kanun
Ahmed Kadri Rizeli, kemence rumi
Mehmet Cemal Yeslcay, ud
Torgut Billur, percussion
Vladimir Ivanoff, percussion, artistic director
Fadia El-Hage, Belinda Sykes, choir