Some cool music to start the day
The first instrument you'll hear when WFCR's classical music starts at 9:00 might be hard to identify. Plucked? Struck? Western? Eastern? Actually, it's at least a little of all of the above. On their captivating new album "Levant," Canada's Amici Chamber Ensemble does a version for standard piano trio (piano, violin and cello) of "Arabian Waltz" by the Lebanon-born, Europe-based oud player and compoer Rabih Abou-Khalil. How do you simulate the sound of the oud, the Arabian lute, with a classical piano trio? It sounds like they have the pianist put a cloth or some other object down on his piano strings (maybe a second piano?) to dampen the sound, a technique that goes back to the harpsichords of the baroque. You tell me if you have a better guess. And having heard some pretty fine oud playing just the other day when Kevin Germain soloed with the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra at the Springfield Central Library, I can attest that the Amici and their pianist Serouj Krakjian have done a pretty credible job at verisimilitoud (ouch!).
Anyhow, "Levant," a musical tour of the Near East, Middle East, Balkans and Caucasus, is one of the coolest classical albums to come along in a while. Later in the first hour, we'll return to it for Sergei Prokofiev's "Overture on Hebrew Themes," composed for Russian-born clarinetist Simeon Bellison and his Jewish music ensemble "Zimro." And more to come in the next several days — stay tuned!