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Friday, Sept. 22, 2006


Anouar Brahem "Le Voyage de Sahar"

Tunisian-born Anouar Brahem is an unparalleled master of the oud, a lutelike Arabian instrument with 12 strings. On this, his seventh -- and best -- release, he appears brimming with influences from Ancient Persia to New York and beyond. Accompanied only by piano and accordion, his oud darts and flows as it weaves in Middle Eastern scales, classical harmonies and French chanson. The original compositions offer rich lyricism and room for intimate interplay among the musicians.

Though the varied range of dynamics, tonal highs and lows are strikingly original, the sound is often sparse, and sometimes down to just a few taut notes, before building back up into stately richness. This alternation of tension and release paints the image of the title with a broad palette of sounds. Brahem blends without blurring, though, and the crispness of each instrument makes this acoustic music very striking.

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