Over the scope of 15 tracks on Chants des Trois Cours, commanding Lebanese-Canadian singer and music director Lamia Yared plus seven virtuoso musician “friends” explore three of the cultures that contributed to the Ottoman musical world. This ambitious Persian composers and Among the album’s delights are the songs in muwashshah, the musical form from Aleppo, Syria with Arabic-Andalusian poetic roots. Jalla Man Ansha Jamalak (A Tribute to Your Beauty), set in maqam Awj Iraq and in the Mrabaa metre of 13 slow beats, is a beautifully performed example.
Montreal-based Yared’s voice soars above her group of outstanding instrumentalists: Nazih Borish (oud), Reza Abaee (ghaychak), Elham Manouchehri (tar), Joseph Khoury (riq and bendir) and Ziya Tabassian (tombak). Cellist Noémy Braun and bassist Jérémi Roy ably enrich the album’s bottom end. Didem Başar, featured on Turkish kanun, also provided the nuanced and very effective arrangements.
But it is Yared who brings Chants des Trois Cours to life. Propelled by her elegant vocalism, linguistic skills and artistic vision, she piques our interest in the rich musical legacy of this multicontinental, multicultural empire. That this impressive achievement was conceived and produced in Montreal is yet another wonder.