Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Classical Music for Egyptian Dance

Some of my students have been asking about which CDs I use in class and where to buy music.

So this blog entry is simply to highlight a handful of my favourite CDs focusing here on Classical Egyptian music, together with some handy links to where you might be able to purchase them from.  I've picked Classical for this blog as I recently used some of the tracks from these albums in my Golden Age workshop.

One of my all time Classical favourites is the "Layali El Sharq Ensemble Live, Classical Egyptian Music for Raqs Sharqi".

This double CD consists of live recordings from the 1980s of the Layali El Sharq Ensemble, a group of Egyptian musicians based in London and brought together by producer Jennifer Carmen, to tour with Egyptian dancer Suraya Hilal.  There are a beautiful selection of tracks to listen or perform to including beautiful songs like Raqs El Gamal, Tamra Henna, compositions by Mohammed Abdul Wahab, Farid El Atrash, and the Rahbani brothers, as well as taqsims and tabla solos. 

I find that the beauty of these recordings is in the balance between the different musicians.  This results in a production so very different from the more modern CDs made for Egyptian dancers which I find to often be overly dominated by percussion and keyboard.  There is simply space to hear the purer melodies of classical instruments like Violin, Qanun, Nai to be heard.

You can order this CD direct from Layali El Sharq Music.  You can also buy this from the Raqs Sharqi Society

Another CD I use, which contains live recordings of Classical pieces is called "Jewels".

These tracks are also taken from productions of Suraya Hilal's work, although a slightly later period than the Layali El Sharq album.  And, although there are a number tracks in common for both CDs I consider this to also be a worthy addition to the collection as I find the recordings to be slightly better quality.  You can order this CD from Tanz Raum

Hossam Ramzy has also produced some classical CDs.  The version of the song "Aziza" which I used in my workshop comes from the CD "Best of Mohammed Abdul Wahab".

This is a useful CD for some timeless popular tracks which are a good length for performance.  This can be purchased direct from the Hossam Ramzy online store and should be widely available from a number of other UK stockists, including as part of a double CD with the Best of Om Kolthoum, available from Aladdin's Cave.  

Finally, one of my brand new purchases is a live recording from a concert and Dance performance in Paris by Raqs Sharqi dancers Anne Benveniste and Lillian Malki - un "hommage à Mohamed Abdel Wahab".

This is a box set containing a DVD and CD.  I have listened to the CD over and over as it contains some beautiful versions of a number of classic tracks like Enta Omri and We Daret al Ayam.  This production is available to purchase direct from Anne, although I bought my copy from the Raqs Sharqi Society

Happy listening!

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