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Lou Harrison: Bell Bowls from La Koro Sutro (New Albion)
Lou Harrison was a 20th century American composer with a passion for the gamelan music of Java and Bali, and he incorporated many of those sounds and textures into his music. I opened the show with this percussion piece played by William Wynant.
Anouar Brahem: The Lover of Beirut, Dance with Waves, Stopover at Djibouti, and The Astounding Eyes of Rita, from The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM )
Anouar Brahem is a celebrated player of Arabic classical music in his home country of Tunisia, and a tireless experimenter and collaborator to the point where it is often hard to say where North Africa leaves off and Europe begins in this spare, dignified, detailed music. For the past few decades he has divided his time between Tunisia and France and played, composed, taught... and worked with all manner of musicians as well as poets and dancers.
Think about the instruments in this quartet: oud, bass clarinet, bass, bendir and darbouka (those are North African hand drums). The result is elegant, exotic, low-toned, and full of feeling for deserts and cities.
The album is titled after a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, a revered poet of Palestine who died last year (photo to the right, just below). Here is the poem:
Between Rita and my eyes
There is a rifle
And whoever knows Rita
Kneels and plays
To the divinity in those honey-colored eyes
And I kissed Rita
When she was young
And I remember how she approached
And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids
And I remember Rita
The way a sparrow remembers its stream
Between us there are a million sparrows and images
And many rendevous
Fired at by a rifle
Rita's name was a feast in my mouth
Rita's body was a wedding in my blood
And I was lost in Rita for two years
And for two years she slept on my arm
And we made promises
Over the most beautiful of cups
And we burned in the wine of our lips
And we were born again
What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours
Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds?
Once upon a time
Oh, the silence of dusk
In the morning my moon migrated to a far place
Towards those honey-colored eyes
And the city swept away all the singers
Between Rita and my eyes
Mozart: Trio in G movements 1 and 2 (performed by the Gryphon
Trio) from Mozart Trios (Analekta)
Toronto's Gryphon Trio is Annalee Patipatanakoon (violin), Roman Borys (cello), and Jamie Parker (piano).