Name: Natacha Atlas And Soumaya Baalbaki The Double Concert
Details: Tickets at 25,000/50,000/65,000/90,000/150,000 LBP
PLAY FOR TODAY in partnership with The BEIRUT MUSIC & ART FESTIVAL present, THE DOUBLE concert:
NATACHA ATLAS WITH HER ORCHESTRA – IN A STATE OF REVERSAL!
SOUMAYA BAALBAKY AND HER BIG ORIENTAL BAND PRESENTING ARABTANGO!
The title of Natacha Atlas’ new album Mounqaliba, Musically, it follows in the same vein as her previous CD Ana Hina, a homage to FAIRUZ blending traditional Middle Eastern songwriting with a sweeping, orchestral grandeur inspired by western classical music. Atlas has always been a good singer, but on Ana Hina she became a great one; here, her gentle, airily nuanced, minutely ornamented, FAIRUZ-inspired vocals vividly span the range of human emotions from longing to hope to despair. The originals on this album are sung in classical Arabic, co-written by Atlas and her longtime violinist/collaborator Samy Bishai, along with a couple of surprising covers, backed by jazz pianist Zoe Rahman, a 20-piece Turkish ensemble and chamber orchestra.
The album begins with a stark piano instrumental with martial echoes, segueing into the stately sweep of Makaan, Atlas’ vocals both ethereal and eerie over the swell of the orchestra. They follow with the chilly starlit solo piano piece Bada Alfajr and then a carefully enunciated, wary take of the familiar habibi standard Muwashah Ozkourini. In its own towering, expansive way, Atlas’ cover of NICK DRAKE’S THE RIVERMAN maintains the tense, hypnotic, doomed atmosphere of the original but updates it for the 21st century with strings over a repetitive percussion loop. The swaying, atmospheric levantine anthem Batkallim, a scathing denunciation of media and political hypocrisy, opens with a sample of President Obama reminding us that “we live in a time of great tension:” understatement of the century. It’s the high point of the album, pointillistic accordion over funereal strings and a practically trip-hop beat. The understated anguish of Rahman’s piano is viscerally chilling.
The brooding intensity continues with the title track, a Rachmaninovian opening piano taqsim giving way to funeral drums, ney and then a bitter dirge, Atlas’ wounded vocalese contrasting with the somewhat grand guignol atmospherics. Le Cor le Vent is an unselfconsciously anguished blend of vintage French chanson and sweeping 1950s Lebanese art-pop; they follow that with Lazahat Nashwa, an upbeat, percussive levantine dance and then an imaginative, dreamy, orchestrated trip-hop cover of FRANCOISE HARDY’S LA NUIT EST SUR LA VILLE. The album closes with the brief, somberly atmospheric chamber piece Ghoroug, an ominously stampeding dance and then the wistfully orchestrated lullaby Nafourat el Anwar, which ends the album on a surprisingly optimistic note. Count this among the top two or three world music albums of 2010.
Soumaya’s come back with a magnificent line-up of musicians performing the songs of Abdel Wahab, Asmahan, Abdel Halim, and Leyla Mourad in a Tango format with an Argentinean Neo-Tango re-arrangement. Expressive, powerful and passionate.
Place: Beirut New Waterfront
Date: 4 June 2011
Time: 8:00 P.M