Sacred Bridges

Sacred Bridges

by King's Singers, Sarband


Listening to the King's Singers' beautifully blended voices on this disc's opening track -- a Renaissance-era psalm setting -- you might not notice anything out of the ordinary at first. Soon, however, it may strike you that they aren't singing in Latin, as expected, but rather in Hebrew. Yet this composition by the Jewish composer Salamone Rossi, who was employed by the Duke of Mantua in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, only begins to hint at the kind of cross-cultural exchanges among Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions that are explored on Sacred Bridges. By the second track, the King's Singers have been joined by the traditional Turkish ensemble Sarband, whose collaboration with the classical period-instrument group Concerto Köln has also resulted in some fascinating multicultural explorations. On Sacred Bridges, Sarband performs the music of Ali Ufkî, written at the Ottoman court of Sultan Mehmed IV in the 17th century. Ufkî adapted hymn melodies from Protestant psalm books to the Turkish style, and the two ensembles often trade off between the different versions here, even combining the King's Singers' vocals with Sarband's percussion instruments at times. There's no question of erasing the distinctive differences among the religions, but when the reverent harmonies of Rossi or Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck give way to the intense meditations of an Ufkî psalm, it's clear that they share more than the same sacred texts and some borrowed melodies, for they also all use music to achieve a level of spiritual experience that wouldn't be possible with words alone.

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