The Guardian – Erica Jeal
Al Farabi Concerto is that rare thing – a concert series that matters.
The Daily Telegraph- Ivan Hewett
These newcomers from the Middle East and elsewhere need a helping hand ..which is why initiatives like ‘Al Farabi Concerto’ are so vital…
The Times- Hilary Finch
Moroccan Ahmed Essyad’s ‘Voix Interdites’: ………”a fascinating inter-fertilisation of the Arabic sensibility, tinted with Gallic instrumental sophistication and a fearless love of the human voice”
The Financial Times – Michael Church
Today Cairo’s conservatoires for western and oriental classical music sit side by side but don’t collaborate. Yet that old two-way fascination between European and Egyptian composers has gone on bearing fruit – as witness this fascinating concert staged as part of the Al Farabi Concerto project. And its subtitle – “connecting past and present” – did just that. One of the composers whose works were played met Bartók at that conference in 1932. Halim El-Dabh is now 90: his densely worked piano pieces harness the techniques of Bartók’s Mikrokosmos to evoke the drums and flutes of Arabia.
In works by Gamal Abdel-Rahim, who studied with Hindemith, we could discern echoes of that German modernist, though his handling of the flute was quintessentially Egyptian. It was no surprise to discover that Aziz El-Shawan (1916-93) had studied with Khachaturian, and imbibed the music of eastern Europe. His Meditations for Violin and Piano could have come from Fritz Kreisler himself.
But since this event was designed to show how this east-west cross-pollination is working today, we also heard the premiere of a piece by El-Shawan’s pupil Ramz Sabry Samy, in which flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano were gracefully interwoven. Then came more premieres: an intricate collage by Patrik Bishay, and a pungently compacted melange of pitched and unpitched sounds by Amr Okba, whose inventive brilliance was matched by the brilliance of its execution by the six-member Composers Ensemble.
Musical Opinion Magazine
“…the Al Farabi Concerto – an initiative to promote the music of Middle Eastern composers alongside their Western counterparts in London concert venues – a political, peaceful, beautiful and positive initiative, one that has begun to communicate values across cultures.”
“‘Les Cinq Sens’ by Mounir Anastas was a virtuosic set of variations for violin, two percussionists and piano, made up of complex rhythmic cells that tended to dissolve into spectral soundscapes. It was performed with astonishing flair by Thelma Handy, Dan Jones, Toby Kearny and Ian Buckle. Samir Odeh-Tamimi’s ‘Anin’, meaning “an inner secret crying”, built an intense atmosphere of keening from micro-tonal gestures and falling glissandi coupled with minutely controlled timbres distributed between the eight instruments.