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Essyad: Le Collier Des Ruses / Nahon, Bonet, Gonzalez, Et Al

Release Date: 07/24/1995 
Label:  K 617   Catalog #: 7051   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ahmed Essyad
Performer:  Cécile BonnetFabienne GonzalezHoucine DjitiSid Ahmed Agoumi,   ... 
Conductor:  Philippe Nahon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental Ensemble
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 29 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Ahmed Essy ad was born in Morocco in 1939 and came to Paris in 1962, where he studied with Max Deutsch, a Schoenberg pupil. Le Collier des ruses (The Necklace of Guile) is a chamber opera in Arabic, in which Essyad uses his western training to carry through an Arabic tale, but the music is also related to Berber music played by the peasants in the Atlas Mountains. Although it sounds very foreign to our ears, an eventual recognition of serial methods and ideals suggests that it would be just as alien to a Moroccan. While much of the vocal line consists of speech and microtonal crooning, several instrumental episodes (there are nine players) have a Webernian flavor; there is a stunning percussion cadenza near the beginning of disc two. The Read more work was “virtually composed without being written down' ' for the 1977 Avignon Festival, and it was revived for the 1994 Musica de Strasbourg festival, whence comes this recording.

The opera is based on four tales by El Hamadhânî, a tenth-century Arab poet. The tales are retold by six actors playing roles and three singers who occasionally comment on the action. Beyond what has been culled above, the program notes are not much help: by the time concepts of Arab thought and history are expressed in French and translated into English, meaning has fled. We are given a three-language summary which includes bits of the libretto, but no connection is made to the performance in Arabic.

It is not possible for me to review these discs in any meaningful way; I can only say that initial absolute incomprehension slowly gave way to considerable fascination but little enlightenment. Replaying the work repeated the cycle; e.g., disc two continued to please more than disc one. I don't know whether or not this issue will appeal to those with Arab backgrounds or connections, but I don't hesitate to recommend it to adventurous listeners seeking new musical worlds.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [11/1995]
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Works on This Recording

Le collier des ruses by Ahmed Essyad
Performer:  Cécile Bonnet (Soprano), Fabienne Gonzalez (Soprano), Houcine Djiti (),
Sid Ahmed Agoumi (), Driss Roukhe (), Sonia Mekkiou (),
Jean Lorrain (), Véronique Reinbold (Mezzo Soprano), Mohamed El Ouarardi ()
Conductor:  Philippe Nahon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Morocco 
Date of Recording: 1994 
Venue:  Live  Musica de Strasbourg Festival 
Length: 89 Minutes 13 Secs. 

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