I was initially due to attend the performance of Dreams on March 12th at King’s place, but I got delayed on the night in another part of town, and consequently missed it. Dreams is a series of duets for violin and guitar on songs of prominent Azeri composer Tofig Guliyev. I was kindly offered this album by Neil Watson and The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), whom I salute for their courtesy and diligence.
I, for sure, spent an amazing and thoughtful listening time, and re-listened the album later on as well. The fusion between a guitar and the violin might not be so rare these days, it is still not a mainstream practice, so it inspires a fresh break from the front shelf flux of classical releases. The virtuosity of both musicians isn’t to be questioned at any moment. Rashidova (violin) and Hvartchilkov (guitar) easily switch within the variety of dynamics, and they never fail to display a fair share of demonstrative techniques.
The choice of songs and their sequencing takes us through many different musical shades, dominant with romance and strong melodic lines, hipanisms, Latin rhythms, hints of arabisms and a lot of humour. Dreams alternately whispers of nostalgia and joy, eventually ending on a positive note – a hide and seek game of both instruments punctuated with question tags. It bears a good number of memorable moments, not surprisingly the havanaise on Track 14 (Your beauty will not last forever), almost seemingly answering out to Carmen; the arm-in-arm cloche-pied theme of Track 6 (A song of Friendship), concluding on a higher octave staccato; the airy, glissando movements of Track 17 (Fair Bride), etc. There are indeed many, many more.
In fine, I found this album and its music to be celebratory of human wisdom through the prism of an ode to simplicity. It also is a dancing game between man and woman, transcending, rocking, sometimes evocative of dusk horizons, sometimes nocturnal, without a doubt a thousand miles away from the 21st Century megalopolis’ hassle. It is, for instance, an album that would speak thoroughly to the late working executive looking for an escape. Dreams.
Dreams is an excellent album! Which is why there whirls a rogue ball of guilt inside of me when I’d go for a tiny, finicky observation to only a few of Hvartchilkov’s lines: for a couple of solo parts, inbetween chords is heard finger rustle against thicker strings. Yet, a lot of people like these, legitimately since it adds some form of character.