PENTATONE’S upcoming release of the CD BROKEN BRANCHES with Tenor KARIM SULAYMAN and Guitarist SEAN SHIBE features instrumentals and songs in English, Arabic, Sephardic, and Italian by Benjamin Britten, John Dowland, Giulio Caccini, Claudio Monteverdi, Fairuz, Sayed Darwish, Toru Takemitsu, and Layale Chaker.

The Music

In lesser hands this collection of songs spanning several centuries, and several cultures could have become an East-meets-West grab-bag of favorites of the artists. But holding the body and soul of the enterprise is the lovingly curated selection of the material, unified by the artists’ multi-cultural search for home that sits at the root of how the diaspora of their families impacts on them.

The performance

Both artists resolutely refuse to pedantically execute the music obeying rigorous performance practice. Karim Sulayman purposely allows his fast vibrato to freely inhabit his performance of Caccini and Dowland and Monteverdi, infusing his delivery of the Renaissance music in the recording with the same intensity of emotion he puts into the Sephardic and Middle Eastern tunes he sings later in the album. His vocal technique is fully functional in all of the selections he sings, and Sulayman couples it to his dulcet, often plangent timbre to great effect.

Sean Shibe shines as both accompanist and soloist, proving the perfect partner in all of the vocal selections, and leaving us wanting more from him, hopefully soon to be included in an upcoming album.

The liner notes and engineering are vintage Pentatone.

Rafael de Acha

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