Istanbul Oriental Ensemble


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From one of the leaders on the Turkish music scene comes this album on the relatively small Network Medien label out of Germany. The foremost treat in this album is Burhan Ocal's outstanding darbuka playing. He is a master on the small drum and shows off his prowess in every possible way on the album, from simple accompaniment to five-minute virtuosic solos. A case in point is the aptly titled "Kor Gibi Darbuka," wherein he makes full use of the spectrum of sounds available on the drum. The album opens up with a song that sounds suspiciously similar to Astor Piazzolla's Libertango in places, but with a definite Middle Eastern tinge to it. The flute playing is perhaps best shown on that same opening track, with the outstanding Ferdi Nadaz, who died soon after making these recordings. He is also featured on clarinet throughout the album to good effect. Each player on the album is perhaps worthy of being a solo star in their own right, with qanun, oud, violin, darbuka, and pipe players each leaving a mark of outstanding ability both in solo runs and in combination with the full ensemble. Alaattin Coskunner's qanun is itself worth the price of the album, filling textures at will and switching over to solo runs up and down the scale when given the chance. For a basic look at the Turkish traditional music scene, this isn't a bad album at all. For an outright enjoyable romp through the traditions of Asia Minor with the aid of a number of virtuosos, this is the perfect album. Burhan Ocal's ensemble has been pleasing audiences for some time worldwide, and here they show exactly why the audiences are pleased.

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