Various Artists

Explorer Series: Java - Court Gamelan

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Javanese court gamelan is some of the most refined, beautiful, and strange music you're likely to find. Slow and stately, this music -- the examples here are from Jogyakarta -- offers both constant movement and the floating sense of standing still. Starting with a "Ketawang," the real meat is in the two long gendings, "Tedjånåtå" and "Mandulpati"; the former is a medley of three compositions to accompany a classical court dance, although it's played here more as a concert piece, given a slower, dreamy tempo. There's a continuous flow of sound, but the movements are subtle and discreet, presenting themselves slowly, like a flower opening. "Mandulpati" is in an older Solonese style. Refined and highly sensuous, it incorporates sung classical poetry. The final piece, "Hudan Mas," recorded in 1971, was played for a radio broadcast, with the gamelan (the word refers to the orchestra, not an instrument) playing softly, in a lulling manner, forming a perfect end to the record.

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