Even if Belgian pianist and composer Jean-Luc Fafchamps is neither a Sufi, nor a Muslim and there’s any properly esotheric purpose behind this sonic research, he drew inspiration for his Sufi Letters from the Jawahiru’l Khamsah, an old table by Sheikh Abul-Muwwayid, which linked the 28 letters (even if according to some essaysts they’re more than 28) to a plenty of symbolic meanings, which he tried to translate into music by a potentially monumental collection of suites for each letter of this mysterious alphabet. Such a bizarre methodology and compositional pattern Monsieur Fafchamps is working on by developing an impressive network of cycles, a proper stylistic rhetoric and correspondences between instruments and letters (T for ensemble and electronics, K for orchestra, A for ensemble and orchestra, Z3 for trombone and electronics, and so on) could sound partially unrealistic, a sort of capriccio inspired by a passing fancy where this composer channeled his past and present interests for alchemy, arithmetic and arcane knowledge, but the fact this composer takes this sonic research seriously is clear from the circumstance he’s working on it for more than 13 years. […]

The five “letters” of this second chapter of this research smells of life by means of labyrinthine itineraries, sudden accelerations, dust devils, bolting harmonies and perfect intertwining of instruments and electronics, winning rolls of heavy accents – I found remarkably engaging the ones on “Z1” -, emboli on the musical score where sometimes recurring tonal sequences got entangled by sudden sonic spurts and gripping dynamics, which often resembles mixtures of film-music or “contemporary classic” stuff by Berio, Lygeti or Cage (particularly the suites “Y” and “S2”). It could be equally considered a brain-teaser for students and academics of composition and an engaging listening experience for listeners who don’t really deal with more technical matters.

Rated: 4,5/5

Vito Camarretta, Aug 01, 2013

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