Date: May 19, 2018
Venue: Schimmel Center (NY)
Review by Piruz Partow
Legendary Iranian kamancheh performer, Kayhan Kalhor, has been one of the top World Music musicians in the world. Not only has he gained much recognition as an Iranian musician, having performed with Hossein Alizahdeh and Mohammad Reza Shajarian, but also being a pioneer in cross platform collaborations with YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and also in duet with musicians like Indian Sitarist/Vocalist Shujaat Hussain Khan. Tonight’s duet concert with long-time collaborator Turkish baglama player Erdal Erzican was most enjoyable to any ear.
The two musicians took listeners on a 90 minute continuous journey to both Turkey and Iran. The evening was filled with improvisations and solos where the musicians echoed one another, played in unison and took turns soloing. Mr. Erzincan’s playing was smooth and sensitive, being very much in tune and aware of Mr. Kalhor’s vibrant and lyrical playing. Mr. Kalhor displayed some really cool chops not only with his bow, but also doing a curious type of “heavy metal” tapping on his kamancheh with both hands several times. The two definitely strove to honor traditional sounds while creating new ones.
Much of the concert seemed to center around Turkish centric themes based in the Schur mode or dastgagh of Persian music, where plenty of melodies in both Turkish, Arabic, and traditional Persian folk music can be found. The overall vibe of the concert was reminiscent of the Shajarian record Silent Desert” with beautiful bowing and vibrato on the Kamancheh.
A highlight was Kalhor’s passionate improvisation and expression on what sounded like the gusheh (or melody) Oshaq.There were also definite visits to the mode of Shushtari and Homayoun that kept the listeners engaged and on the edge of their seat.
Overall this concert was extremely accessible to middle-eastern music lovers as well as those that appreciate quality collaborations among two stellar musicians.