Thursday, 5 April 2012

Constantinople and Barbara Furtuna…

                          An incomparable musical pairing

                                                          by Nancy Snipper

The year, 2008 became the genesis for Canti di a Terra – a group representing the meeting of musical geniuses. To this day, Barbara Furtuna, the vocal counterpart of Canti di a Terra brilliantly continues to transport all listeners into the religious and non-sacred music of Corsica, while being accompanied with instrumentation and compositions by another ensemble of superb musicians. They are Constantinople.  
These artists create impeccable phrasing, intricate melodic lines in syncopated rhythms, spellbinding us all with their mastery over their respective instruments: setar, viola da gamba, tombak and drums. They create a blend that generously offers Oriental flavours from Persia. Constantinople is led by the masterful musician (setar and singer) and seemingly holy sadu, Kiya Tabassian. The acclaimed ensemble was co-founded in 1998 by Kiya and his brother Ziya, who, in the April 2nd concert I am about to speak of, proved his percussive prowess. Ziya articulated excitement in the Corsican concert with his multitude of rhythms executed with rapid fire drumming.
Constantinople’s instruments infused us with wonder as they constantly weaved in and out of the various polyphonic vocals. The total result was unrivalled rapture and transcendence. Indeed, God seemed to visit the stage during this concert inside Montreal’s Salle Pierre-Mercure hall, where Constantinople performs throughout the year when not touring the world. We were mesmerized by the harmonious beauty resonating throughout the hall. The reverent glory of Canti di a Terra speaks of us a region rich in mystery and spirituality. The music transported us to another world. It was as if Ave Maria herself had appeared before our eyes, in the pleading song ‘Tota pulchra es Maria’. Impeccable musicality, solemnity and grace sung in a myriad of ways was the collective mood in most of the sacred songs, from the pious X1V century. Traditional Corsican grace in the songs ‘Suda Sangue’ and ‘Maria le sette spade, louange à la Vierge des douleurs’ stunned us into silence. In these songs, pleas of forgiveness while confessing our guilt over sin called upon Jesus to relieve our suffering while acknowledging his suffering for us.
In all, sixteen songs or sorrow, redemption and joy filled the program. The thunderous applause at the end of the concert echoed the warmth and unbreakable bond Constantinople and Barbara Furtuna have in the creation of Canti de a Terra. It spread into our hearts during the concert, and we demanded an encore – which they gave us. This concert of virtuoso performances, created difficult nuances while bursting with passion – never unbridled -  but restrained within the maze of musical lines of haunting harmonies that  were so inspiring, we wanted to kneel down and pay homage to these astounding artists. Such was the beauty they created; their performance brought us that much closer to godliness. At the end of the concert, the table selling their CDs was swarmed. It made me think God really is untouchable.