The Early Dreams project represents both a return to the source and a rebirth for Constantinople. It is the start of a new cycle.
The group was born ten years ago around a meeting of the sonorous, musical and cultural worlds of two instruments—the setar and the European lute—the first, monodic and drawing melodic contours around the latter’s bass lines and harmonic patterns. This dialogue was complemented by the virtuoso percussion work of Ziya Tabassian and the rich sound of the viola da gamba, which can take on the roles of both bass instrument and solo voice. Since its inception, the ensemble has travelled the world to explore new projects arising out of unique musical encounters between old manuscripts and living musicalRead more traditions. Driven by a constant desire to renew itself through creation, the group’s projects draw from existing material while leaving room for informed improvisation.
This new cycle begins with Early Dreams, in which the setar, the Baroque guitar, percussion instruments and the viola da gamba mingle with the voice of our long-time collaborator Françoise Atlan over the ostinato bass lines of Spanish and Mexican diferencias from the Baroque era. We used these bass lines, drawn primarily from the works of Lucas Ruis de Ribayaz (c.1626–c.1667) and Santiago de Murcia (c.1682–c.1740), two Spanish instrumentalists and composers whose works were widely played in 17th- and 18th-century Mexico, as a starting point to recreate both instrumental and vocal works.
The Montreal early-music ensemble Constantipole offers something different on “Early Dreams,” a collection of music by the Spanish composers whose works were popular in 17th- and 18th-century Mexico. But instead of a dutiful, musty revival of this era, the musicians here add sounds and textures from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond.
Constantinople is no stranger to cultural cross-pollination. Founded in 1998 by Kiya Tabassian, an Iranian-born performer on the setar (a Persian lute with a long, rounded neck), the ensemble also includes his percussionist brother, Ziya Tabassian, and Pierre-Yves Martel, a viola da gamba player. Guests regularly fill out the ranks, in this case Enrique Solinis, a Spanish baroque guitarist, and Francoise Atlan, a French singer and musicologist who lives in Morocco.
The group’s wildly eclectic and exotic approach is heard throughout this collection. Santiago de Murcia’s Marionas is richly embellished with percussion and setar filigree, sounding more than a little like strains of 60's psychedelic folk. Strong Arabic influences are found in Lucas Ruiz Ribadayaz’s Premiers Songes as well as his Las Fuentes Mi Voz Socorran, with its intricate vocal lines. Atlan’s clear and warm voice is displayed to particularly great effect in La Petenera / La Serena, a sultry flamenco-tinged song. Several numbers also feature texts by Latin America's first major poet, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695).
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