Canticum Novum, Emmanuel Bardon
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This haunting CD of music associated with the diverse cultures of Aleppo is charged with additional melancholy in light of the knowledge that this millennia-old city has in our own times been reduced to rubble. Canticum Novum, a large ensemble incorporating voices and traditional instruments such as the oud, duduk, nyckelharpa, zurna, ney and kaval as well as conventional early instruments such as viol, lute and triple harp, invokes the rich musical cultures of a city which has stood at a cultural crossroads for five millennia. Emmanuel Bardon, who drew the ensemble together in 1996, has consciously mixed world music and early music ethoses in an effort to access this sometimes nebulous and ancient repertoire. If this music and these performances lack the academic credentials we would normally expect of European early music recordings, like Jordi Savall, Christina Pluhar and a growing number of fine musicians searching outside Europe and in more remote centuries, Bardon relies on instinct and musicality to breathe life into this music. The result is a wonderfully atmospheric evocation of an eastern metropolis renowned for its diversity and tolerance, qualities which may recently have been bombed into extinction.
D. James Ross