Various Artists

Music of Islam, Vol. 12: Music of Iran

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In this volume from Celestial Harmonies' Music of Islam series, Persian classical music is explored along with more contemporary forms of Iranian music. The instrumentation is limited to kemantche and santur here, with accompaniment on the zarb and duff, depending on the piece being played. A surprisingly large number of pieces here are based in Kurdish folk music, something of a rarity for most Iranian albums, but a welcome influence here. The pieces move back and forth between Dastgahs Shur and Homayoun, as is called for by the mood of the work. The album starts out with some Kurdish music based in Shur, followed by a piece from the Europeanizing legend Ali Naqi Vaziri. It moves through a piece of Shooshtari folk music based in Homayoun, followed by an outstanding solo on the santur by Sadjadifard Agha-ye. A short dance number in Shur follows, followed itself by a lengthy improvisation in various folk forms. Sahihi Agha-ye provides a masterful solo on the zarb, and a piece from kemantche player Ali Asghar Bahari follows, showcasing some good interplay between kemantche and santur. An improvisation largely on kemantche follows, and the album finishes where it began, with a pair of songs based in Kurdish folk music. Throughout, the musicians show a good deal of virtuosity, perhaps less than on some other albums, but still more than most albums on the market. Pick it up as part of this outstanding series of albums of Islamic music, but if not as part of the series, look into some old Majid Kiani work instead as a start (at least for the santur).

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