Album Remarks & Appraisals:
American Record Guide, November/December 2014
The idea behind Shahram Nazeri's "Rumi Symphony Project" is the integration of texts by the Persian mystical poet Rumi with Western symphonic music. He wants to create a balance between East and West where neither dominates, and I think he has succeeded. The most apparent Eastern element is the vocal techniques, which are derived from Persian music and are marked by a glottal articulation on individual pitches in rapid scalar ascent and descent. Western music is felt most in its tonal harmony, form, and orchestration; the orchestra and western ensemble configurations supply a platform for the improvisation and interaction between soloist and group that is traditional in Persian music. Nazeri is a master of his craft and cares deeply about this project and its potential for establishing intercultural connections. I find the music compelling for its timbres - the combination of Eastern vocals and Western instruments - and a finely developed sense of form.
Audio Mixer: Thomas Lazarus.
Liner Note Authors: Hafez Nazeri; Wendy Laister; David Foil; Mahasti Afshar.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York City (01/08/2011-01/10/2011); CaVa Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (01/08/2011-01/10/2011); MSR Studios, New York City (01/08/2011-01/10/2011); Rumi Studio, Tehran, Iran (01/08/2011-01/10/2011); Avatar Studios, New York City (01/16/2011); CaVa Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (01/16/2011); MSR Studios, New York City (01/16/2011); Rumi Studio, Tehran, Iran (01/16/2011); Avatar Studios, New York City (12/06/2010-12/09/2010); CaVa Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (12/06/2010-12/09/2010); MSR Studios, New York City (12/06/2010-12/09/2010); Rumi Studio, Tehran, Iran (12/06/2010-12/09/2010); Avatar Studios, New York City (2010-11-??&2011-02-??_2011-); CaVa Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (2010-11-??&2011-02-??_2011-); MSR Studios, New York City (2010-11-??&2011-02-??_2011-); Rumi Studio, Tehran, Iran (2010-11-??&2011-02-??_2011-).
Editors: Steve Fallone; Isaiah Abolin; Hafez Nazeri; Brian Losch; Oscar Zambrano; Arash Adelpour.
Photographers: Ian Cuttler; Takeshi Suga; Paul De Luna.
Untold, the first cycle of Hafez Nazeri's ongoing Rumi Symphony Project, is a long vocal and instrumental suite, drawn from eastern and western classical traditions to cross over cultural boundaries. Based on the poetry of the 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi, the program is universal in intent, and the music carries the idea of transcendence through the blending of ancient Persian and Kurdish melodies with modern orchestral and choral sonorities. Nazeri's massive, open-ended form is purposely designed with future recordings in mind, and it provides ample room for expressing his ideas on the totality of existence; the themes he pursues are the stock in trade of contemporary mysticism. Instead of a conventional symphony, or even part of a symphony in the broadest sense, Untold is a series of loosely worked but ornate sections with connections to new age spirituality, as set out in the four Chapter headings -- I. Creation (Om), II. Existence, III. Untold, and IV. Eternal Return -- along with various esoteric sub-sections. This album may appeal to people who are interested in eastern thought, and perhaps secondarily in Persian music, which is the main source of Nazeri's inspiration. Furthermore, this disc may find a mixed audience among adult contemporary, international, and crossover fans. However, traditional classical listeners will find this work to be over-produced and off-putting for lacking a clear method or even a rationale for its formal shapelessness. Reception may depend most on one's openness to Nazeri's cosmic ideas, rather than on his skills as a composer. ~ Blair Sanderson