Back in May I wrote about the santur player Faramarz Payvar, and since then I’ve been listening to Persian traditional music quite a lot. As with the related Arabic tradition, I love the rhythmic fluidity of this music, with its melodic ornamentation as endless in its possibilities as the eddies in a river current. The santur has a distinctly beautiful sound, but Persian music features instruments more familiar to European ears too. The above performance by violinist Behnoosh Behnamnia and tombak player Keivan Taheri has become a video I’ve returned to again and again. Behnamnia’s playing is unhurried, highly expressive, and closely mic’d for a rich full timbre, while Taheri accompanies her with great subtlety. Much like the music of the Renaissance and Baroque, I find I increasingly value anything that sits within a comfortable range of pitch and dynamics, and which doesn’t demand total domination of the ear – something which has seemingly become an accepted right in Western classical composition. I wrote more thoughts on this here.
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