It seems like every classical album these days has to have a gimmick, a theme. With this one it's an exploration of the influence of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century Western European waltz on the music of the Ottoman Turks. The disc alternates comparative selections from both musical worlds to make its points, and it's a follow-up to the album Dream of the Orient in which the same performers offered up much the same thing.
The disc is certainly enlightening, but I wouldn't say it's entirely entertaining. None of the record's twenty-nine tracks goes on for very long, most of the pieces lasting only one or two minutes, the longest just over four. With all these bits and pieces thrown at us, and with alternating Western (Concerto Koln) and Eastern (Sarband) ensembles, the effect is somewhat dizzying.
Fortunately, Maestros Ehrhardt and Ivanoff conduct lively, spirited interpretations of the music, and the ensembles play remarkably well for them. Unfortunately, because the music is so delightful, it just tends to make one long for more.
Not helping matters is that DG Archiv's sonics appear unimpressive at best. The disc, which Archiv released in 2005, sounds excessively warm and soft, yet the engineers recorded it relatively close-up. Go figure. Of course, the Archiv engineers may have calculated the sound by design in order to tailor it to the romanticism of the music; I don't know.
In any case, I liked the album's concept quite a lot; I just didn't care much for its execution.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here: