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Golfam Khayam & Mona Matbou Riahi: Narrante

Mark Sullivan By

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Iranian guitarist Golfam Khayam and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi—also known as the Naqsh Duo—bring a whole host of additional influences to bear on the Persian musical traditions they grew up with in the collaborative music on Narrante. Khayam explains that "the freshness and purpose of improvisation come mostly from the Persian side, while the careful structure and careful crafting come from Western contemporary music." It's a personal synthesis, with composition and improvisation intertwined.

Opener "Testamento" (Testament) does sound like Persian music, beginning with two clarinets played simultaneously, then guitar and clarinet weaving modal lines together. "Lacrimae" (Tears) shows the influence of the singing improvisational traditions from Kurdistan, while "Narrante" (Narrating) comes from the Guati, a healing ceremony in Baluchistan (with its repetitive rhythmic figures and pentatonic scales). The title tune builds up impressive energy through the combination of pattern repetition from the guitar and register changes in the clarinet part.

"Battaglia" (Battle) has clearer contemporary influences, beginning with percussive guitar playing using the strings and the body. The piece gets gentler as it goes (aftermath of the battle?), with another slight eruption at the end. "Parlando" (Speaking) makes good on its title. Matbou Riahi's clarinet opens with a singing line, and as Khayam's guitar joins in the pair have an intimate conversation, the parts sometimes closely paralleling each other, sometimes joining together.

Narrante is the first ECM production to be issued simultaneously in European and Iranian editions, reflecting its dual influences. In its own way it extends the Persian musical tradition, while simultaneously bringing it into a Western setting.

Track Listing: Testamento; Arioso; Lacrimae; Battaglia; Parlando; Sospiro; Narrante; Silenzio; Lamento-Furioso.

Personnel: Golfam Khayam: guitar; Mona Matbou Riahi: clarinet.

Title: Narrante | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: ECM Records


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