Fahmi Alqhai Koury is a virtuoso of the viola da gama (viol). The Syrian-born musician grew up in Seville from the age of eleven, forming his skills, in part, by playing with Jordi Savall’s Hespèrion XXI. His collaborator, Rocio Marquez is one of the foremost contemporary voices of flamenco.

Despite differences of style, it feels like a suitable union. Together, they connect with history’s scars and the soundscapes of the Mediterranean and Latin America. Sonically, they redraw the so-called AI-Andalus era (Islam-controlled Iberian Peninsula and Southern France around 1000 AD), a golden medieval age in which Muslim, Jewish and Christian musicians invented an open language. In the same way, both Fahmi Alqhai Koury and Rocio Marquez trade their usual musical territories for a mutual blend, ultimately demonstrating that flamenco and baroque music share common intentions as well as similar harmonic and structural rules.

It’s all about breathing, pulsation and expressiveness. The viola da gamba sings like a cello and the subtleties of Baroque music still find connection with today’s popular sensibilities. In its entirety, it has a roughness and an abruptness but it never fails to sound deeply human. It’s strange as well as timeless, sounding simultaneously current and rooted in history.

Rocío Márquez & Fahmi Alqhai, Dialogos de viejos y nuevos sones (ViaVox/L’Autre Distribution)

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