The maqâm is a classical form of Central Asian music, a suite that used to be tied to official or religious ceremonies, depending on the region and the suite. The Uzbek-Tajik Shash-maqâm first served as court music. Highly codified, the suite consists of instrumental and sung sections and draws on both art song (technically challenging, requiring virtuoso singers) and songs based on more popular or folk forms. The suite can last a few hours when performed in its entirety, although it never is anymore. For this recording, Abdorahim Hamidov has selected 13 pieces (nine songs and four instrumentals) for a total duration of 74 minutes. He opted for the traditional minimal instrumentation: the lutes dutâr (Hamidov) and tanbur (Shuhrat Razzaqov, replaced by Tôhir Qâziev in three tracks), the frame drum dâyra (Hâjimurâd Safarov, replaced by Qudrat Samadov in three tracks), and violin, the latter mostly performed by Abduhâshim Isma'ilov, a colorful player. Nâdira Pirmatova takes care of the two "Sarakhbâr," the longer, more developed songs. Her deep contralto voice evokes some Jewish and gypsy female singers (Chava Alberstein, Ida Kelarova). Her precise ornamentations are a pleasure to follow. Mariam Sattarova sings with less-technical prowess but more warmth and a certain pop sensibility. The first half of this maqâm remains solemn and slightly sad in tone, while the last few songs (starting with the beautiful "Chârgâh") follow an uplifting curve that culminates in the joyful "Ufari Sawti Chârgâh." Despite the rigidity of the genre, this music is quite compelling. Good sound quality and informative liner notes turn this album into a very satisfying release.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture