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Alexander RAHBARI (b. 1948)
My Mother Persia – Symphonic Poems Vol. 2
Symphonic Poem No.4 The World without Wars [27:14]
Symphonic Poem No.5 In Love With the World [10:37]
Symphonic Poem No.6 The Hymn of my Mother Persia [5:18]
Symphonic Poem No.7 Antari [6:20]
Symphonic Poem No.8 Arabization [8:19]
Mohammad Motamedi (tenor), Antalya State Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Rahbari
rec. live, 27 April 2018, AKM Aspendos Salonu, Antalya, Turkey
NAXOS 8.574065 [57:59]

This is the second and final volume in Naxos’s conspectus of Alexander Rahbari’s Symphonic Poem cycle; containing numbers four to eight inclusive. The recording is a live one from AKM Aspendos Salonu in Antalya, Turkey; and the sound is remarkably good – one suspects that a large amount of patching has been done with the rehearsals to enable it to appear as free from coughs and other audience noise as it is - hearing this - one simply would not guess it had been recorded live.

The Symphonic Poems meld Eastern and Western music and are full of passion, yearning, evocation and atmosphere. The tenor soloist, Mohammad Motamedi, captures these sensations perfectly – had this been purely western classical music one would have criticised him for being histrionic, but in this context his almost wailing tone (and that is not meant negatively) works perfectly and conveys aptly both the sense and emotions behind the music. The Antalya State Symphony Orchestra cannot be faulted; nor can the composer’s conducting – all absolutely first-rate.

The Symphonic Poems vary in length from the substantial opening The World without Wars - which brims with vivid and extremely efficacious picture-painting - to the relatively brief The hymn of my mother Persia. Mildly irritatingly, texts are only given in the otherwise short but informative booklet notes for the first three set poems, despite Anatari also setting texts (perhaps there were copyright issues with reproducing the last poem?). Of these, one is a thirteenth century religious poem, and the other two (as well as the missing Anatari) are by the contemporary poet Mohammad Farid Naseri, whom I was pleased to note was covered in the booklet notes with a brief biography. Themes touched on – as the titles indicate – include pacifism, blissful union with God, and a love of Rahbari’s (and Naseri’s) native Iran.

Rahbari combines the employment of traditional Western instruments with Iranian modes and scales, rhythms and melodies, and even features the inclusion of motifs from Arabian hymns and intimations of Arabian folk music. It is all tremendously effective and makes for thrilling listening – this is exciting, edge-of-the-seat music, and beautifully delivered by all concerned.

Em Marshall-Luck

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