Lalezar Ensemble

Lalezar: Music of the Sultans, Sufis & Seraglio, Vol. 2 - Music of the Dancing Boys

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In the cosmopolitan Ottoman Empire, Muslim and infidel travelers of various classes came together to enjoy the music of the noted dancing boys. Clad in women's clothes, these alluring dancers sang secular love songs in the tones usually reserved for Islamic liturgical music. The music of these transvestite boy dancers is complex and heady, but gentle and assuaging, like a powerful narcotic. Just like opera, it employs a female vocalist to cover for the non-existent male castrati, so a woman is here to stand in for the boys. Selma Sagbas does an excellent job bringing to life these songs taken from the 19th century, the close of the dancing boys' four-century career. Responsible for the softly rapid run of notes is the Turkish board zither known as a kanun.

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