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In Absentia
Fozié MAJD (b.1938)
Dreamland for string quartet (1997, rev 2006) [20:56]
Farãghi (In Absentia) for violin and cello (2017) [21:49]
Amir Mahyar TAFRESHIPOUR (b.1974)
Pendar for solo violin (2017) [6:44]
Broken Times for string quartet (2013) [9:38]
Darragh Morgan (violin), Patrick Savage (violin), Fiona Winning (viola), Deirdre Cooper (cello)
rec. 2018, St Silas Church, Kentish Town, London
METIER MSV28576 [58:29]

Neither of these composers is going to sell out in the cause of easy victories. Metier is there to cradle and nurture such composers. Before now I have encountered Iranian composers in the form of Sharifian, Tjeknavorian and Ranjbaran. As with other countries and cultures, there is no one Iranian style. The music of Majd and Tafreshipour sustains and illustrates that point. Each has an intensely serious absorption in music and the sources of its inspiration. One is in her early eighties while the other is in his forties.

Fozié Majd seems not to have found an easy welcome in her own country. Despite that Majd, as the Metier booklet tells us, has three CDs of her own compositions and a place on a Harmonia Mundi collection “100 years of Iranian Piano Music”. Mahoor Publications have issued 13 CDs of her recordings of Iranian regional music. The two Majd pieces showcased by Metier are each in two movements and each lasts just over 20 minutes. Dreamland comprises two movements of what hits me as loneliness or desolation but delicate, stirred by fluttering tendrils of sound. This is not busy music but speaks of an unhurried realm. Faraghi (Separation) is about the fact of separation from another human being, and the emotional deprivation associated with that separation. There’s Mesto Molto Lento which communicates the sense of a mobile slowly turning in a sustained but ever so gentle breeze. It is almost not a breath and inhabits the line between static and the slowest of stirrings. This is succeeded by a relentless Animato Ma Non Troppo Allegro. This stands at the extreme edge of sound where silence meets whispers.

Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour is represented by two much shorter pieces. Pendar for solo violin is all hesitant distance and remoteness - a cold enchantment, but one in motion. The music struck me as rather akin to that of Mihailo Trandafilovski (Lorelt) and with its quiet ways would surely appeal to that aristocrat among violinists, Peter Sheppard Skaerved. The same composer’s Broken Times for string quartet inhabits a mise-en-scène of spidery hesitation, rush and distance. It is dedicated to Majd and in its ways is at times rather like the music of Majd. There is reasonably easy access to orchestral music by Tafreshipour via Naxos.

The disc is graced with notes by the two composers as well as profiles of the performers

The performances give every appearance of being devoted and skilled. Darrah Morgan, in particular, has recorded discs with Metier for composers: Fokkens, Finnissy, Whitty and Clarke. There also an anthology album. Morgan has also been recorded by NMC and Resonus.

Rob Barnett

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