Montreal-based Constantinople Ensemble is a group of musicians who chose the journey, not only geographical, but also historical, cultural, temporal, and inner, as their cornerstone, drawing inspiration from all sources and aiming for distant horizons. To the cynic this vision will sound trite. But unlike so many in the world of contemporary art music , the Constantinople Ensemble under their music director Kiya Tabassian put their music where their mouth is. Their recently-released album In the Footsteps of Rumi on the innovative Glossa label may be predictable in subject matter. But the core ensemble of setar (Persian lute), kanun (Turkish zither), percussion, and baroque violin and viola d'amore is far from predictable. For the exquisite Rumi settings in Persian and Arabic they are joined by Tunisian singer Ghalia Benali in an album that provides a refreshingly astute viewpoint on the over-exposed Rumi . Even further off the predictability scale is the Cons
I actually very lovingly set out to combine the two anniversaries into a mini-series with the Surrey Mozart Players. The idea was to do back to back concerts of one symphony and one solo work by each, paired with a Beethoven overture (Beethoven being arguably the largest influence on either). The programs were going to look like this
Beethoven- Coriolan Overture
Schumann- Cello Concerto
Shostakovich- Chamber Symphony op 83a
Beethoven- Leonore Overture No. 3
Shostakovich- Poems of Maria Tsvetayeva
Schumann- Symphony No. 3
I actually thought the pairing was exceptionally interesting and put both of them in a fresh context. Schumann the polemicist versus Shostakovich the yurodivy, Florestan and Eusebius versus Shostakovich the Old and New, it was going to be great. Well, soloist cost, the lack of people who can sing in Russian, marketing concerns and scheduling issues nearly did us in, but in the end we managed to keep everything except the songs, which have been replaced by the Prokofiev 2nd fiddle concerto, which is a great piece, it just doesn’t fit the theme.
Sadly, by the time we had dealt with soloist availability, orchestra conflicts and all that we ended up with both concerts in 2007….