Uyghur Musicians from Xinjiang

Music from the Oasis Towns of Central Asia

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While not a band as such, the Uyghur Musicians are all familiar with the traditional music of Xinjiang, China (also known as Chinese Turkestan), which is something of an anomalous region, being the oasis towns of the old Silk Road, its people holding on to the Muslim religion. The music owes more to Central Asia than to China itself. On this disc, the music is drawn from two distinct regions, the Ili valley and the oasis towns of Turpan, and both have their beauty, whether instrumental -- as on"Ejem," where tambur and dutar offer a duet, the differing tones of the stringed instruments complementing each other, or the folksongs "Mudan Khan" and "Shahzade Khan," the former with a full, glittering instrumental backing, the second a spare piece for dutar and voice. The most prestigious of the Xinjiang musical pieces, however, are the Maqams; 12 musical suites, some of which are presented here, with "Penjigah Muqam Of Ili" as something of a centerpiece, followed by the sad "Nava Muqam of Turpan." All in all, it makes for fascinating listening, hearing how Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Central Asian music have all come together to breed this striking and ancient hybrid -- and to have it given in some remarkable performances by the region's best traditional players and singers.

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