It must first be said, for those not familiar with the ensemble or the man behind it, that Hossein Alizadeh is among the “Who’s Who” of contemporary Persian musicians and is considered one of the most important figures in the approach to Persian music today. Having studied the classical composition system, the Radif, with various masters, Alizadeh formed the Hamavayan Ensemble in 1991 as the foremost research and performance source of Iranian choral music. Featuring many other superb musicians in their own right, Ode to Flowers takes us on an multi-textured journey driven equally by Afsaneh Rassai and Pouria Akhavas on vocals, Madjid Khaladj on tombak and daf, Ali Boustan on setar, Nima Alizadeh on robab and Saba Alizadeh, on kamancheh. While music of this region may sometimes be an acquired taste for Westerners with ears unaccustomed to the stylistic musical tension and dissonance, Ode to Flowers is remarkably and exceptionally accessible and evocative for all. The 9 songs here are based on a form of choral chanting from the Safavid period (17th through 19th centuries), rooted in religious and mourning rituals and involving a group chant led by a lead chanter. While the songs on this CD were inspired by this type of chanting for ritualistic gymnasium dances, or the zurkhaneh, dervish and Sufi group chanting of poems as well as traditional monophonic chants, all integrity of the tradition has been held intact. The combination of traditional purity and customs met with modern inventiveness and inspiration on Alizadeh’s part make this the number one Persian album we will recommend from this day forward.
Check out the album and listen to clips from all the songs at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hamavayan.