08 Afarin MansouriAfarin Mansouri – Dancing with Love
Afarin Mansouri; Various Artists
Centrediscs CMCCD 31923 (afarinmansouri.com/recorded-albums)

Toronto-based Afarin Mansouri (b.Teheran 1974) came to Canada in 2002 and studied composition, receiving her doctorate from York University. Singing in Farsi, she brings her vibrant mezzo-soprano voice to nine of this CD’s 12 selections, all involving aspects of “Love.”

Mansouri has drawn most of the texts from medieval Persian poetry. Verses by venerated 13th-century mystic Rumi and 14th-century Hafiz adorn three arias from her opera Zuleykha. Mansouri calls her libretto a revisionist “female perspective” on the biblical Potiphar’s wife, lovesick for Joseph. In addition to four solo songs, she’s joined in two duets by beguiling, velvet-voiced tenor Milad Bagheri, including the finale of her opera-in-progress The Endless Sea. Its about the tenth-century Rabia Balkhi, considered Persia’s first female poet, and incorporates Balkhi’s poetry. Bagheri also solos in two of Mansouri’s songs.

They’re variously accompanied by pianist Cheryl Duvall and other members of the Thin Edge New Music Collective, plus Padideh Ahrarnejad on the waisted-lute tar and Ali Masoudi on tombak and daf drums. Mansouri also adds atmospheric electronic soundscapes to three selections.

I can’t imagine anyone, whatever their musical preferences, not enjoying Mansouri’s richly melodic, vivaciously rhythmic and exotically scored compositions, inspired by traditional Persian music yet contemporary in sensibility. Her rapturous traversal of love’s joy, yearning and despair ends with the poignant A Lament for Love for solo flute, played by Terry Lim. It expresses, writes Mansouri, her “heartfelt love and nostalgia for the homeland.” Texts are included.

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