Maya Beiser & Keyhan Kalhor • Perovenance
Mp3 128 Kbps | 49 Mb | 2010
01- I Was There (Keyhan Kalhor)
02- Memories (Djivan Gasparian)
03- Mar de Leche (Tamar Muscal)
04- Only Breath (Douglas Cuomo)
05- Kashmir (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant) [You Tube]
A Cellist and Her Friends Explore Multicultural Harmonies
Spain’s Golden Age, an era of peaceable coexistence and cooperation among Jews, Muslims and Christians during the 9th through 15th centuries, has inspired projects by numerous prominent artists. Some, like the great Catalan viol player Jordi Savall (who will perform at Lincoln Center in May), have tried to recreate sounds of the period. “Provenance,” a program the
cellist Maya Beiser presented at Le Poisson Rouge on Wednesday night, proposes a modern-day analogue with evocative modern works inspired by historical sources.
That the era resonates strongly for Ms. Beiser is unsurprising. She grew up on a kibbutz in northern Israel with Muslim and Christian Arab communities close by. “Provenance,” created in 2008 for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, was conceived as an evening-length multimedia event. For her CD of the same name, due in May from Innova, Ms. Beiser selected five pieces from the original program; at Le Poisson Rouge she played them in sequence, flanked by two more.
Ms. Beiser opened with “The Echo of Decay,” by Raz Mesinai, a protean Israeli composer, performer and producer. With a laptop computer Mr. Mesinai established a throbbing pulse and a windy whoosh. Ms. Beiser responded with percussive bounces, pealing harmonics and plucked melodies, bits of which Mr. Mesinai snatched and swirled around her.
Bassam Saba, an oud player, and two percussionists, Glen Velez and Matt Kilmer, joined Ms. Beiser in “I Was There,” by Kayhan Kalhor, the Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) virtuoso. Mr. Kalhor based the piece on a melody attributed to Ziryab, a ninth-century Persian Kurdish musician. Individually and together Ms. Beiser and Mr. Saba played heady flights over the patter of Mr. Velez’s tambourine and the throb of Mr. Kilmer’s djembe (African hand drum).
Accompanied by a recorded drone, Ms. Beiser brought a breathy flexibility to the plaintive “Memories,” by Djivan Gasparyan, a master of the Armenian duduk (a wind instrument). “Mar de Leche,” by the Israeli composer Tamar Muskal, opened with a recording of Etty Ben-Zaken singing a yearning Sephardic song in Ladino; the instrumentalists followed with soulful, playful and flamboyant variations.
In Douglas J. Cuomo’s “Only Breath,” inspired by Andalusian vistas and Sufi chant, Ms. Beiser played keening lines over an electronic backdrop created with samples of her breathing and playing. She brought a muscular swagger to Led Zeppelin’s classic-rock war horse “Kashmir” (arranged by Evan Ziporyn), shaping the Arab-inspired melody with sinuous curves.
Mr. Velez was briefly featured in the last piece, “Samai Nahawand” by the Palestinian violinist and oud player Simon Shaheen. But the best showcase for Mr. Velez’s explosive dexterity was a brief opening set by his Ta Ka Di Mi Duo, with the singer Lori Cotler. The two exchanged exuberant, chattering rhythmic figures and drew the audience into an amiable singalong. They closed with a buoyant reworking of the pop chestnut “Imagination” that lived up to the title.