December 6, 2015

Ghazalaw2Entwined Affinities

Listening Post 24. Gwyneth Glyn sings and writes Welsh folk music. Tauseef Akhtar is a singer-composer from Mumbai and master of Indian ghazal, a traditional form of love poetry. Neither is the sort to compromise cultural integrity; nonetheless, they are clearly passionate about the affinities they discovered in their music. The extraordinary result is Ghazalaw—10 tracks, nine of which pair songs with parallel lyric-themes of unattainable and lost love. Akhtar sings in Urdu, Glyn in Welsh; their languages, mellow voices and instruments—harmonium, harp, tabla, guitar, violin—are exquisitely complementary. In Tum nazar se/Cyfri’r sêr (You Should Have Let Our Glances Meet/Counting Stars), he pines over what could have been; she sings, “Three things are difficult: Counting the stars, touching the rim of the moon and knowing the mind of my love” (video 1). In Hud se/Cainc yr aradwr (Transcend the Limits/Branches of the Plowman), Akhtar intones, “Don’t give me that intoxicating look/It can make me break all barriers 
and cross all the limits in love,” while Glyn sings of a lovesick admirer beholding his “bright star” (video 2). Jungnu ke sitara tha/Hen ferchetan (What Shines Above/Old Maid) entwines romantic metaphors with the tale of a much-ridiculed woman whose fortune turns when a suitor whispers in her ear. Guzur jaayenge jab din/Hiraeth (Time of Togetherness/Nostalgia) joins the Urdu love that will outlive all others with the deep Welsh longing that outlasts gold and silver, velvet and silk. Ghazalaw showcases two rich musical traditions and is more than the sum of its parts. (Marvels of the Universe)





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