This CD is an unusual collaboration between Canadian born Brenna MacCrimmon and Selim Sesler's Turkish Rom ensemble. A karsilama is a term/dance which has made its way all over the Balkan area, as well as Turkey, so the use of the dance to name the CD is a metaphor for the meeting of different cultures through music. Karislama presents a varied and exciting repertoire, aptly compared by Ms. MacCrimmon in her liner notes to a beautiful antique shawl; "years later we take out the handiwork and see how beautiful the colors are, how fine the detail and workmanship is." The vocal repertoire is culled from listening to both archival and contemporary recordings. Ms. MacCrimmon's appreciation and dedication to this music is apparent throughout. Initially attracted to Balkan and Turkish music, she eventually made a pilgrimage to Turkey where she learned the language, and studied with the local players there. The degree to which she has made this music her own is impressive. Given a few more years, she will undoubtedly grow from diligent pupil into the diva she shows every sign of becoming.
Selim Sesler's ensemble is completely first rate, and from the first few notes, we know we are in the hands of a master. His clarinet sears. His band burns, following him through all the twists, turns, and maqams he can muster. This a rich feast, both texturally, melodically and rhythmically. Excellent background notes by Sonia Seeman provide an historical and social context for the music.
The tour de force is at the end, the measured "Olumleri" is a Rumeli song. It has an extraordinary presence, even for one who may not know its intent or origin. As it marches solomnly away, it provides a marked contrast to the sinuous songs of celebration or unrequited love that have gone before. - Michal Shapiro
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