Gigs, dance, art

December 6th, 2008: Al-Kindî Ensemble with Sheikh Habboush

@théatre de la ville

Music from Syria, mixing classical and Sufi music. That’s all I knew about it, enough to be interested yet wary, because I wasn’t sure those two would mix. In hindsight, I’m still not sure, as it was more both interleaved than mixed, with each keeping its separate identity most of the time. I guess some of that impression comes from my own lack of knowledge about either. Had they been more familiar, I might have perceived more interaction. That was the bad side of this show as far as I am concerned, it felt more like two distinct shows. Both were good, but I kept thinking each part would have been better on its own.

Al-Kindî are very good, no doubt about it. Composed of Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss on Qanun, Ziad Qadi Amin on Ney, Muhammad Qadri Dalal on Oud and Adel Shams El-Din on Riq, they are amazingly skilled in the classical Arab tradition. The first three went in for a solo during the show — the end of each was signaled by Sheikh Habboush — that put their technical skill and musical sensitivity on display. I would like to hear them on their own or with a classical singer, because it felt a little too dazzling with those singers.

Sheikh Habboush was not alone, he had five other singers with him, including two whirling dervishes. Just to get the latter out of the way, I had never seen one perform before and I was surprised by the relative slowness of most of it. There’s something fascinating about the fixity of their upper bodies while they turn, but I was not interested for long, in fact I felt uncomfortable looking in that setting. The singing was great. At times there would only be a single singer — often but not always Sheikh Habboush — but it really reached something special with all six together, especially parts where five would chant a powerful background for the soloist. In those parts I wished they had been alone because the virtuosity of the other musicians felt like a bit of a distraction. So I’d like to hear that kind of music without any instrument but maybe some percussions.


December 7, 2008 - Posted by | Music | , ,

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