Review | Songlines

Serenin: From the Black Sea to the Ligurian Sea

Rating: ★★★★

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Despite appearances this is not a generic fusion but a bridge between specific traditions soundly based on historical and environmental connections: the inland Genoa region (Liguria) and the Black Sea plains share a bagpipe tradition; Genoa established colonies over the area up to Georgia; and both regions have rainy climates due to high mountains rising by the sea.

Recorded in Istanbul, the 15-strong ensemble led by the duo CABIT (Davide Baglietto, bagpipes, and Edmondo Romano, reeds), features a contingent of Ligurian musicians including Stefano Valla (piffero, fife) and Daniele Scurati (accordion). The Turkish delegation is led by Filiz Ilkay Balta, well-known in Turkey as maybe the first female soloist on the tulum (bagpipe), and features Alparslan Kurtoglu (kemenche), Erhan Zaza on davul (bass drum), Onur Ural (zurna and duduk). Classic folk songs and dance tunes of both regions are sometimes combined for their assonances in rhythm, atmosphere or style, and enlivened with counter-melodies. The musicians seem to have fun with each others' music and language. ‘To lose Trebizond’ is a classic Italian idiom meaning ‘to be lost’ – Genoese sailors feared the stormy Black Sea. These Genoese musicians found Trabzon instead.

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