Spectropol is happy to once again bring the work of Iranian composer Ehsan Saboohi to our listeners…and in this case viewers, as the large work here, a dramatic concerto for solo actress, is ideally experienced as an audio/visual event. Saboohi brings Iranian poet Nima Yushij’s classic “The Legend” to life in this probing, challenging, and ultimately moving theatrical piece.
PDF Booklet: www.brucehamilton.info/SaboohiConcertoNotes.pdf
INSTAGRAM (Farsi): www.instagram.com/p/BftV6wmHtu2/
DESKGRAM (Farsi): deskgram.org/thelegendofyushspoet
A translation is given below the video for non-Persian speakers (sorry, no subtitles), but the work...which is often declamatory and feels more like a play than music...can still draw one in with its own cadences and dramatic curve.
"The structure of this "concerto" is a combination of contemporary Naghali (recounting stories), spoken word, and contemporary performance art. The actress here creates musical events with voice, body, and movement; a bit like a piano concerto that does not have an orchestra. For me, the Mise-en-scène functions like the orchestration of a piece.
Naqqāli (or Naghali) is the oldest form of dramatic performance in Iran. Historically, it has adapted itself to socio-political circumstances. Before the Sassanid (651 AD), Naqqāls were poets and musicians simultaneously: they recited stories while playing instruments. Bārbad was the most renowned Naqqāl of the Sassanid. During Ghaznavids 10th-12th AD), the Court banned musical Naqqāli, but the tradition survived in remote areas.
The performer – the Naqqāl – recounts stories in verse or prose accompanied by gestures and movements, and sometimes instrumental music and painted scrolls. Naqqāls function both as entertainers and as bearers of Persian literature and culture, and need to be acquainted with local cultural expressions, languages and dialects, and traditional music.
The Concerto for Solo Actress is a faithful narration based on the poem “Afsaneh” (The Legend) by Nima Yushij. I left Tehran for two years in order to write “The Legend of Yush’s Poet”. For this purpose, what place could be better than the homeland of Nima, the father of modern Iranian poetry and whose poem “The Legend” poem charmed me?
I took up residence in the village of Khesht Sar, in the Central District of Mahmudabad County, Mazan- daran Province, Iran, and in close proximity to the birthplace of Nima – Yush. Whenever I was going to the city, I saw a large board at the entrance of the city that had been written on it: “Welcome to Nima Yushij’s Birthplace”. Indeed, Yush and Mazandaran are Nima, and Nima is the pristine nature of the North of Iran. My new home was near the Caspian Sea, which Nima describes it like this: “Your lips were smiling in that wave”. The only music that filled my mind in those two years were the sounds of nature and silence. In this silence, I had the opportunity to think about one thing every day and every hour! Who is the legend? What shape is she? How is her singing? How bitter is her bitterness? And how long is her way? The performance of this work certainly has the result of cooperating with a sympathetic and committed group that I should be very grateful to all of them. Those who were with me at eleven nights’ live perfor- mance of this work and then at all stages of recording, producing, and preparing the audio and video version.
As far as I know, The Legend of Yush’s Poet is the first concerto written for an actress. However, I am responsible for all the errors ahead. But at the same time, I present the premiere of this work to all members of the group and Ghazal Naeemi, who practiced hardly and tirelessly for almost seven months. I am grateful to my sophisticated and kind-hearted friend, Ramin Dargahi, who translated all the texts into English. I am grateful to my dear wife, Lena Koocheri, who has strongly supported me all this time. Also, I thank Mohammad Mousavi and Bruce Hamilton, who helped me to produce this work.
My greatest hope and desire during the making of this project and upon the release of its audio and video albums is that Nima Yushij, a well-known poet of Iran, is watching our work and smiling on what we have done – like a wave that smiles on the sea and caresses us slowly!" - Ehsan Saboohi Tehran 2017