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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Nesrin Sipahi w/ the Kudsi Erguner Ensemble

By Bruce Miller
Published June 22, 2007

Sharki: Love Songs Of Istanbul
Times Square

This beyond gorgeous collection of Sharki—the Turkish word for song—has its roots in poetic laments first conceived during a period of heavy European influence on what three hundred years earlier had been the vast Ottoman Empire. But by the 18th Century, things were changing and the poems—mournings for lost loves or fallen Ottoman heroes—were set to appropriate musical melancholy. This album, initially released in 1991, is the first recorded release of Sharki—a style little heard today—in its most authentic form, with traditional instruments. The lyrics and melodies were written over the last three hundred years and are, fortunately for us, being kept alive by vocalist Nesrin Sipahi. Here, then, is some rare Turkish classical music in all its sweeping modality (with occasional hints of Uzbek and Iraqi maqam), sung and performed by absolute masters of the form, and breathtaking in its sheer sadness.