The clarinet soloist, David Krakauer, is well known as a klezmer player in addition to his classical work (he previously recorded "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" by Osvaldo Golijov). In all the years that I have been reading about music, I have never come across the phrase "klezmer-influenced Arabic maqam," but I guess that there is a first time for everything. The CD cover has the phrases "Songs and Prayers" in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. This is one new CD that I will definitely buy.Fairouz' huge, and hugely ambitious, symphony tackles one of the most vexing and complex issues of our time - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - in a work that mourns the conflict, honours the dead and prays for peace through the medium of poetry and music. Opening with the [Jewish memorial prayer] Kaddish, and incorporating Palestinian poetry, the work does not shy away from the tragic, implacable oppositions inherent in its subject, and this is reflected in the tensions between the styles in Fairouz' remarkable polyglot musical vocabulary. Clearly audible influences are as diverse as Mahler, Britten, Shostakovich, Bernstein and Glass - thus, a broadly neo-romantic idiom, tonal and entirely accessible - but constantly inflected by the modalities of Arabic and Jewish scales and idiomatic borrowings from traditional performance practice, resulting in a highly personal style, uniquely suited to expressing the emotional resonances of the work's message. By the end of the huge finale - almost as long as the other five movements together - with its lamentation, warlike outbursts, and final prayer for peace against an apparently unresolvable background of despair, the work has achieved a shattering and unforgettable effect. Tahrir - 'freedom' is an immensely attractive, jaunty clarinet concerto with a gritty, underlying tension summed up in its klezmer-inflected Arabic maqam and slightly demented incessant motion - brilliantly achieving entertainment and provocation at the same time.
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This is to give some information about someone who has to be one of the most unusual contemporary composers around--Mohammed Fairouz. An Arab-American, he has integrated a number of influences, including, believe it or not, Jewish klezmer music. I can do no better than quote from Records International's blurb about his most recent release, "Symphony No. 3 (Poems and Prayers)" and "Tahrir" for Clarinet and Orchestra on Dorian Sono Luminus:
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