From August 2019. “Traditional music from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Armenia’’ does not really indicate how much of an art music this is nor does it suggest that the traditional here can be timeless and to an extent modern too in the same way that Greek drama continues to have relevance for actors, dramatists and audiences.
Singer Maria Farantouri projects grandeur and tragedy in equal measure to a striking humanity. She achieves profundity throughout. The compositions are by saz player Cihan Türkoğlu, and material spans huge terrain via Sephardic song of exile to a setting of Heraclitus, wedding music, and much else.
Anja Lechner in the five-piece instrumental ensemble is at the centre of the formal sound. She is one of the world’s finest cellists and ECM have been a big champion of her work over many years and proves how much she is a major artist although here in the democratic setting of a group is quite anonymous.
Recorded in a studio in Athens produced by Manfred Eicher if you like traditional music then you will enjoy this. If you do not you will not. An excellent album where traditional music fits into an ocean of sound these days is a big subject and nothing here poses let along answers that question given that it is not at all about polemics, issues or style, more about humanity via a wide angle. An endangered species? Yes. However, records such as Beyond the Borders protect and nurture, challenge and add new life part of why they signify and deliver so much.