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GMCD 7333 SUFI/BACH Orient meets Occident Sufi-Ensemble Burhan Öçal Die Freitagsakademie Howard Griffiths conductor – 59 :08

New Classics Friday February 19th 2010

GMCD 7333 SUFI/BACH Orient meets Occident Sufi-Ensemble Burhan Öçal Die Freitagsakademie Howard Griffiths conductor – 59 :08

Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Arab historian, described Sufism as: ‘... dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.’ Sufis are emphatic that Islamic knowledge should be learned from teachers and not exclusively from books, and Sufi orders can trace their teachers back through the generations to the Prophet himself. Through the centuries, Sufis have contributed hugely to Islamic literature and been influential in spreading Islam even to the furthest outposts of the Muslim world in Africa, India and the Far East. Orthodox Islam as well as some Christians are weary of the inherent power of music to elicit sensual pleasure and thus subjugate the power of the word. The Order of the Sufi, however, is dedicated to music and consciously uses its power to elicit trance and ecstasy as a religious practice, thus allowing for pleasure and sensual experience. The famous circular dance of the Dervish is an example of this. The Pocket Opera Company’s Sufi/Bach summer concerts at the 2008 Zurich festival brought together orient and occident on a musical level: Sufi songs (with dervish dancing) and Bach’s cantatas BWV 93 and 107. By juxtaposing both forms of music, riveting the Zurich audiences in the fully packed church, the musicians explored both commonalities and differences between Islam and Christianity while discovering a similarly mystical effect of music in approaching spirituality in both religions, exploring the possibility of transporting the idealised word of both religions into a sensual experience, even achieving ecstatic effects with Bach’s formally strict cantatas. This is extraordinary music of truly transcendent beauty.

Other releases from Guild include REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST (GMCD 7341), which has music by John Dowland together with world premiere recordings of five new lute songs written and played by the excellent Peter Croton. The singers are Theresia Bothe and Derek Lee Ragin.

(GMCD 7338) features the young Canadian violinist Alexandre da Costa and the Orchestre Symphonique Bienne conducted by Thomas Rösner playing the much-loved Violin Concerto No. 1 and, for the first time on CD, the famous ‘Kol Nidrei’ arranged by the composer himself for violin and orchestra


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