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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

ENSEMBLE IBN BÁYA

By Michael Stone
Published June 27, 2006

Nuba al-Maya: Musica Andalusi
Pneuma

Led by Tangiers lutenist Omar Metioui and Spanish medieval flautist and architect Eduardo Paniagua, Ensemble Ibn Báya takes its name and inspiration from the 11th- and 12th-century Arab-Iberian physician, philosopher and musician who espoused the union of the human soul with the divine. Its Spanish and Moroccan musicians perform medieval Arab-Andalusian music on period instruments whose reconstruction and dissemination comprise an important part of their project. Their work reflects the broader al-Andaluz traditions embodied in Moorish Spain’s Islamic, Jewish and Christian folk song, and the music’s continuing influence in contemporary Spain, North Africa and the Middle East. The Núba repertoire heard here emerged in the eighth-century Abbasid court of Baghdad, and made its way to Cordoba soon thereafter. The complex vocal arrangements are finely complemented by oud, Andalusi and Tunisian lutes, citole (a Christian medieval three-string instrument), rabab (a bowed two-string instrument), viola, recorder and a variety of hand percussion, all combining to express the poetic yearning and harmonic philosophy embodied in the teachings of Ibn Báya. Lyrics are in Spanish, with extensive notes in Spanish, French and English.