Istikhbars and Improvisations(イスティクバルと即興)

by Mustapha Skandrani

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about

Mustapha Skandrani. Besides having an excellent name, this man, a luminary of Algerian music, possessed a unique musical sense, able to transcend the borders of musical cultures to create a distinctive fusion of Arabo-Andalusian and European styles.

"Istikhbars and Improvisations", recorded in 1965 in Paris, is a solo piano album presenting a trans-Mediterranean crossover based on traditional Algerian vocal pieces known as Istikhbars. Playing these istikhbars (which have roots in the Islamic Arabo-Andalusian culture which flourished in Spain) on the piano, that quintessentially European instrument, Skandrani was greeted with derision by some purists. Skandrani's powerful musical vision, however, perceives the European element involved in Arabo-Andalusian musical culture, a world of exchange and co-existence, and his decision to play this music on the piano reminds us of this European influence.

Skandrani's modus operandi on this release is to present each istikhbar, modal in nature, then to play an improvisation based on the istikhbar and its attendant mode. This A/B alternation continues throughout. The pellucid clarity of Skandrani's playing on this album may remind the listener of a modal Goldberg Variations, Bach and Glenn Gould transplanted to Andalucia. Other ears will hear the Arabic/Maghreb elements more strongly. Skandrani's precise touch and clear, symmetrical rhythmic sense links both worlds, assuring us that the Mediterranean is not a barrier, but a unifier, and that the differences between the cultures are not vast. This is an admirable acheivement, resulting in beautiful music of a rare charm.

Mustapha Skandrani was born in Algiers in 1920, and died there in 2005. He mastered a number of instruments at an early age, and his musical prowess led him to work with the great singers and ensembles of his day, in live performances, recordings, and radio broadcasts. Later in his life, he devoted much energy to education.

TRACKS:
1. Mode: Raml Maya
2. Improvisations
3. Mode: Moual
4. Improvisations
5. Mode: Sika
6. Improvisations
7. Mode: Araq
8. Improvisations
9. Mode: Mezmoum
10. Improvisations
11. Mode: Sahli
12. Improvisations
13. Mode: Ghrib
14. Improvisations
15. Mode: Zidane
16. Improvisations
17. Mode: Kourdi
18. Improvisations

credits

released January 30, 2021

アルジェリアの音楽家、ムスタファ・スカンドラニによるアンダルシア古典音楽のピアノ独奏名盤、アラビア版「ゴルトベルク変奏曲」こと『イスティクバルと即興』 (1965)。

なんでまたエムで古典ピアノ?と訝しむなかれ。実がこれが実は相当な孤高・異端作なのである。アンダルシア古典音楽でピアノは末席、このスカンドラニが開拓したも同然の演奏法で、なぜ異端かといえばこの人以前のアンダルシア音楽のコンサートでピアノ独奏はありえず、「イスティクバル」(アンダルシア宮廷音楽の様式のひとつ)をピアノでやるなど誰も考えつかなかった(当時物議をかもした)。

アルジェリアの古典音楽はスペインのアラブ・イスラム王朝が起源のアンダルシア宮廷音楽とトルコの古典音楽が混同し、西洋/アフリカ先住民/ユダヤ系の影響も受け、東西文化の統合が特徴。「イスティクバル」は宮廷音楽の組曲様式「ナウバ(またはヌーヴァ)」の前奏曲であり、幾つかの型(モード)がある。(※詳しくは解説を参照)

‥‥と、そんな小難しいことも理解に必要かもしれないが、それよりも、オリエント/西洋/アフリカが鍵盤上で優雅に交差するさま、その世界が最大の魅力だ。和声に依らず単一の声部で構成されるアラビア音楽の特徴により、ピアノからつむぎ出される音は一本の繊細な線のようで、それが東西世界を行き来するかように動き回る。バッハの「ゴルトベルク変奏曲」もそう遠いものには感じられない。

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