Early Music Review
October 2005

I often first play a disc without looking at the booklet. I assumed that Ali must be a member of Sarband and wondered what the point was of having a modern Muslim rehash of a Geneva psalm. But there is a very good reason. Ufki, alias Wijciech Bobowski (1610-75), was a sort of 17th-Century Cat Stevens, a convert to Islam who tried to bridge the two cultures. According to the booklet, he translated the Anglican catechism (how did a pole know it?) into Turkish and wrote a Latin explanation of Islam. He also translated the Psalms and adapted the Geneva melodies to Turkish musical style. Hence this disc, fulfilling Sarband's aim of exploring connections between the music cultures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jewish input, other than the Psalms being Jewish in the first place, comes from Salamone Rossi. I've heard several recordings of his music, and the King's Singers offer the one that is most convincing musically, though I can't comment on their Hebrew accent. It is also good to have some amazingly neglected Sweelinck psalm settings. An intriguing disc, and far more than a curiosity.