Al Andaluz Project
Deus Et Diabolus (Galileo Music, 2007)
The Galileo label has been releasing some gems lately. Al Andaluz Project is a collaboration between German Medieval music ensemble Estampie and Spanish world music group L’Ham de Foc. Both have a great interest in the music of Medieval Spain. The former Al Andaluz was Moorish-governed Spain, where the three dominant cultures of the western Mediterranean (Christian, Muslim and Sephardic-Jewish) lived in harmony.
The enthralling Deus Et Diabolus focuses on the music from that golden era. The exquisite selection includes Sephardic music, Christian Cantigas written by the famous Castilian king Alfonso X the Learned (also known as Alfonso the Wise) and Arab-Andalusian nubas and other genres.
The music is at times vivacious and dreamy in other sections, but always mesmerizing. In addition to the three vocalists, Sigrid Hausen, Mara Aranda and Iman al Kandoussi, the combined ensemble includes virtuoso musicians Michael Popp on ud, saz, fiddle; Ernst Schwindl on drehleier (organistrum), zanfona, hurdy-gurdy and nyckelharpa; Efren López on ud, saz, rabab, drehleier, zanfona and hurdy-gurdy; Aziz Samsaoui on qanun; Sascha Gotowtschikow on percussion; and Diego López on percussion.
According to the liner notes, Moorish-governed Spain was not only famous for its tolerance and scholarship, but for prosperity, trade and flourishing arts as well. For many centuries, people with different religions – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – lived together in peace and inspired each other. Philosophers, poets, artists and musicians were most welcome at the courts of western rulers like Alfonso X. "the Learned" of Castile, and made their artistic contribution to a unique merging of cultures.
Regardless of their religious denomination people were striving for philosophical, scientific and religious truths. Instead of being a problem, diversity and variety were highly appreciated. The Caliphate of Córdoba featured nine hundred public baths (hamams), thousands of mosques, running water and well-lit streets. By the 11th century, Toledo had become the intellectual capital of Europe, a Christian city where Arabic continued to be the language of culture and scholarship. It was via Toledo, with its schools of translation and its famous libraries, that the rest of Europe could gain access to the ancient writings.
Experience the magic of ancient Al Andaluz by purchasing Deus Et Diabolus.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.