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Dastan Ensemble with Shahram Nazeri: Through Eternity

Feeling at once like a classical recital and a folk music concert, this recording by the Iranian group draws on the poetry of the thirteenth-century mystic Rumi.

By Derk Richardson

Sounds True; 800-333-9185; www.soundstrue.com

The poetry of thirteenth-century Sufi mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi has taken hold of the Western imagination in recent years. Just how beloved his body of work remains in his native region (he was born in what is present-day Afghanistan and died in Turkey) is magnificently evident in this recording by the Iranian Dastan Ensemble, with guest vocalist Shahram Nazeri. Feeling at once like a classical recital and a folk music concert, this "Homage to Molavi" features Nazeri's mesmerizing, chantlike vocals accompanied by the four Dastan musicians—Hamid Motebassem, Hossein Behroozi-Nia, Kayhan Kalhor, and Pejman Hadadi—playing traditional Persian and North African stringed and percussion instruments, including variations on the lute and fiddle, plus indigenous hand drums.

Recorded live, the six tracks (five based on poems by Rumi, one on the words of fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz) breathe and sigh with a gentle pulse, the players occasionally accelerating their improvised tempos and increasing their volume as Nazeri's readings become more impassioned. A musically spacious and emotionally intense embodiment of Rumi and Hafiz's ecstatic praise of the Beloved (with translations provided in the notes), Through Eternity offers a unique opportunity for both contemplation and surrender.

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