Kayhan Kalhor and Brooklyn Rider: Silent City

08.30.08
Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider
The Scotsman

The city explicitly referred to is the Kurdish village of Halabja, which Saddam Hussein half exterminated, but we are meant to take it as meaning all the cities throughout history that have been destroyed, either by human actions or by natural disaster.

The group performing this work has a fascinating provenance, in that they were first brought together by globe-trotting cellist Yo-Yo Ma as part of his Silk Road Project. Kalhor is a virtuoso on the kemancheh spike-fiddle, and spends more of his time in New York than in his native Iran, and he's become a tireless innovator and composer for combinations of Eastern and Western musicians.

With a string quartet plus a percussionist setting off the kemancheh, the sound-world of this work is subtle; its alternation between furious energy and slow-moving harmonic shifts makes for an emotionally powerful hour.