Kudsi Erguner Ensemble, Kemani Tatyos Efendi – Vocal Masterpieces

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Turkish masters play the works of a legendary Armenian composer.

Turkey is the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and you can hear all three in the Kudsi Erguner Ensemble. Renowned as masters of music from the old Ottoman Empire, here they look farther a field to play the works of the legendary Armenian composer Kemani Tatyos Efendi. Despite its title, these tracks aren't all vocal; there are several taksims, or instrumental improvisations, such as "Klarnet Taksim," where Erguner and his players stretch their wings around a mode. Wonderful as those are, Efendi's art songs are the meat here. "Cara Firkatinle," for example, has a sinuous melody that sways hypnotically over the rhythm. Neither classical nor religious, these pieces fill a lush, beautiful niche, but with substance under the decoration. Performed with both tender care and muscle, they're more than a snapshot of history &#8212 they become an insight into the souls of two feuding nations.