Chant and Dance: Works for Chamber Ensemble

Record Label: 
Albany Records
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Chant and Dance: Works for Chamber Ensemble

Here is a welcome companion to the acclaimed release of Reza Vali’s music for string quartet on TROY790. This time music for larger chamber ensembles is featured, with an emphasis on the Persian folk music Vali grew up with. Since 1988 he has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University, and has received numerous awards and commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Kronos Quartet and many other ensembles. His early works indicated his interest in the avant-garde but in recent years he has composed works featuring strong influences from the music of his native Persia. The sets of Folk Songs and particularly the Calligraphy No. 4, with its use of the santoor (a Persian hammered dulcimer), derive almost entirely from Persian folk song. This is truly unique and highly original music.

CARPE DIEM STRING QUARTET; David Korevaar; Dariush Saghafi


This sixth album from the Iranian composer Reza Vali is dedicated to love and longing as heard through a lavishly coloured, musically exhilarating kaleidoscope of Persian and Western forms and content. It is the improvisational nature of the three works written for and performed by the Carpe Diem Quartet with great gusto and an emphasis on exotic folk and Eastern influences that produces the most powerful effects, as in the eight intriguing meditations of Ormavi, told, the composer says, ‘from a solely Persian perspective’.

The 18-minute Raak, No 15 in the composer’s ‘Calligraphy’ series based on a Persian system of modes similar to Indian ragas, is even more unpredictable in its mood and movement; the wealth of evocative sounds and sources Vali uses to achieve his many climaxes include a melody of Brahms-ian breadth and beauty and, at the end, a stunning, brief fragment from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Vali generously and provocatively provides two different versions of Âshoob, No 14 in the ‘Calligraphy’ series. In its original form for quartet and the Persian hammered dulcimer known as a santoor it is a tangibly otherworldly experience; arranged for string quartet alone it is hypnotic in another way, reminiscent at times of Bartók’s use of folk sources for melody and energy.

To fill out the disc, the Carpe Diem violinist Charles Wetherbee and the pianist David Korevaar play Three Romantic Songs, written for the composer’s wife, paying homage to Brahms and concluding with a ‘Tango Johannes’ which Vali describes as Brahms ‘trying to dance the tango with Clara Schumann’, and Love Drunk, consisting of four pleasantly inebriated folk songs.

Gramaphone Reviews, Laurence Vittes