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The Song of the Ney
Various music from the Persian classical tradition
Hossein 'Omoumi, ney - Simâ Binâ, vocal
Nimbus N17060/1 [CD1: 70:05 CD2: 57:28]
 Amazon UK   Bargain price

This two CD set presents two distinctively different programmes of music that will be largely unfamiliar to most readers of this web-site. Nimbus is therefore to be applauded for providing exceptionally thorough documentation, the 16-page booklet being entirely in English and packed full of illuminating information on the musical tradition, the repertoire, the soloists and much else besides. This makes the programmes so much more approachable and accessible, and deepens our interest in the music such that we are encouraged to explore further and take music more seriously. I would add that if more record companies took the trouble to present their material as well as this they might sell rather more albums.

Disc one offers a duo recorded in 1992, with Hossein 'Omoumi, ney flute and Madjid Khaladji on percussion (tombak and daf). These two musicians have worked together since 1984, and are perfectly attuned to one another. It would be a cliché to say the music is hypnotic, yet it is. Sometimes clichés exist for a reason. It is also melodic and very approachable, and may well appeal to those listeners who enjoyed the recent Diáspora Sefardí 2CD set from Hesperion XX. The comparison comes to mind partly because both double-programmes offer one disc of instrumental and one disc of vocal music. On the second set, recorded in 1994, the two musicians are joined by singer Simâ Binâ and Madjid Derakhshâni, târ (a plucked stringed instrument). This ensemble format obviously allows for greater diversity, and is at least initially the more enjoyable of the two concerts. Some of the music is improvised, some traditional, some by Hossein 'Omounmi. Simâ Binâ has a highly expressive and appealing voice, though it should be noted, given that her name is has equal billing with 'Omounmi that she appears in total on only about a quarter of the entire 2CD set. The sound is very clear and accurately placed on the first disc, just the slightest bit clouded in comparison on the second.

This set won't be for everyone, and is really beyond classical music in the accepted Western tradition. However, it is part of a classical tradition of at least as long standing, and being so well documented, the discs (originally issued as individual albums and now packaged together at reduced price) make an excellent place to start exploring beyond the confines of the European classical world. Highly recommended.

Gary S. Dalkin

See also review by Peter Woolf


Gary S. Dalkin

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