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The music of Mohammed Fairouz (b.1985) / Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Mellissa Hughes, soprano; David Kravitz, baritone

Audio Samples

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Tahwidah, for voice & clarinet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Chorale Fantasy, for string quartet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Native Informant, sonata for solo violin
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Posh, for voice & piano
>Fairouz, Mohammed : For Victims, for voice & string quartet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Jebel Lebnan, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon & horn

Album Summary

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Tahwidah, for voice & clarinet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Chorale Fantasy, for string quartet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Native Informant, sonata for solo violin
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Posh, for voice & piano
>Fairouz, Mohammed : For Victims, for voice & string quartet
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Jebel Lebnan, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon & horn
Performers Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Mohammed Fairouz is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation, melding Middle-Eastern music and poetry with Western structures to deeply expressive effect. Native Informant, written for leading international soloist Rachel Barton Pine, embodies Arabic fiddling motifs as well as songful excitement, underpinned by a lament for the victims of the Egyptian Revolution. The lullaby Tahwidah and the song cycle Posh evoke tenderness and loss, whilst Jebel Lebnan was commissioned by the Imani Winds and musically chronicles events from the Lebanese Civil War and their effect on the current face of Lebanon.

American Record Guide, September/October 2013
Mohammed Fairouz's record of recent music is a sampling of different compositional genres and a demonstration of his versatility as a composer. 'Tahwidah' (Arabic for "lullaby") is a work for clarinet and soprano, a pairing that works well. The voice and woodwind blend nicely as they traverse Western and Arabic scales. The clarinet bends pitches slightly and produces what could be described as yelping sounds that signify the ever-present Arabic influence on the composer. 'Posh' is a short song cycle on a text with explicit references to Rachmaninoff and a set of imaginary Ned Rorem songs that the narrator can't seem to find in his library's card catalog. 'For Victims' is a song for victims of the Holocaust, eerie and somber. Terrifying imagery concludes with the question, "Are the dead permitted to sing?" Fairouz's strength as a composer is in his vocal music, and this work is no exception. 'Jebel Lebnan' (Mount Lebanon) is dedicated to the resilience of the Lebanese people. The piece is meant to show how simple songs and melodies are so important in the Arab world and its musical traditions. The title work, Native Informant, was written for violinist Rachel Barton Pine and her then unborn child. The title, according to the composer, is meant ironically - Fairouz wants to break down the "East vs. West" binary and show how much we have in common through music. The final movement is a humble ending, somehow capturing a sense of self-awareness and respect for the history of the violin as an instrument that spans cultures. It is this humbleness that allows the piece - and much of his other music - to work toward his goal of breaking down stereotypes and misunderstandings. The record is a fine sampling of a young, talented composer's work.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, New York (2012-03-07&2012-03-10&2012-).



Reviews

Amazingly compelling work by this important new voice
Mohammed Fairouz is a young Egyptian born composer whose music bridges styles, cultures and genres and I must say appeals to a wide audience or - at least - it should. I first became familiar with his work through his chamber music collection, "Critical Models" on Sonus Luminus. I reviewed this disc for Audiophile Audition and recall commenting that I found his music very interesting but a little inconsistent for my tastes. The present collection is my second exposure to his work and - to paraphrase my first review - I'm all in! This collection has a beautiful yet eery feel to it throughout that sounds quite like he has found his own unique style that blends "east and west". Just the opening "Tahwidah (Lullaby)" featuring the amazing clarinet work of David Krakauer and soprano Mellisa Hughes is enough to get you hooked with a love poem that ends shockingly when we discover who the singer is singing to. (No "spoiler alert"... I urge you to listen to this piece) The beauty continues with the plaintive string quartet "Chorale Fantasy" but the it is the title work "Native Informant", a long, dramatic, difficult and intense sonata for unaccompanied violin that keeps you listening. This is a sad but hopeful work that takes its cue from the ironic, sad and regrettable tensions that presently exist from the composer's native Muslim world and the rest of the world; he makes a compelling case through music to slow down and think. Rachel Barton Pine gives another incredible performance. The mood shifts a bit in "Posh", a set of three songs for baritone and piano. The texts, after poetry by Wayne Koestenbaum, give a surreal tour through the imaginary life of a Jewish man who examines the death of music as given by one who perished in the holocaust. The music is complex; neo-Romantic and a bit "French" and - at only eight minutes - this is one of the most deep contemporary song cycles I have heard, thanks in large part to baritone Christopher Thompson. A similarly striking mood is created with "For Victims" a dramatic scene for baritone and string quartet. The texts by David Shapiro reflect on the atrocities of the holocaust. The music is relentless in its impact and baritone David Kravitz gives a stirring performance. This riveting collection ends with "Jebel Lebnan (Mount Lebanon)" for wind quintet. This is another gripping and unforgiving look at man's atrocity towards others; in this case it summons up the story of the Lebanese political despot responsible for massacres at refugee camps. The tone of the work shifts towards the hopeful by way of a closing Arab round dance in recognition of the Lebanese patron saint, Mar Charbel. Mohammed Fairouz writes music from a cross-cultural, political and humanitarian perspective. The subjects, like the music, are frequently intense and a bit difficult but his music is bold, compelling, more than a little attractive and important. This is a bright, talented and unique young composer whose work should be heard. I, for one, am going to listen again - more deeply - to "Critical Models" This album is a great place to start for anyone unfamiliar with his work. Highly recommended
Submitted on 04/17/13 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Tahwidah, for voice & clarinet
  • Performers: David Krakauer (Clarinet); Mellissa Hughes
  • Ensemble: Borromeo String Quartet
  • Running Time: 6 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2008

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Chorale Fantasy, for string quartet
  • Ensemble: Imani Winds
  • Running Time: 5 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2010

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Native Informant, sonata for solo violin
  • Performer: Rachel Barton Pine (Violin)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Posh, for voice & piano
  • Performers: Steven Spooner (Piano); Christopher Thompson
  • Running Time: 7 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Fairouz, Mohammed : For Victims, for voice & string quartet
  • Running Time: 15 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Jebel Lebnan, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon & horn
  • Ensemble: Imani Winds
  • Running Time: 18 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011