D'Assisi / Pera Ensemble / Yesilcay: Saint & Sultan
Title: Saint & Sultan
Label: Berlin Classics
Product Type: COMPACT DISCS
It is just 800 years since the most important inter-faith engagement in history, an early rapprochement between Christendom and Islam: on the fringe of the Crusades, there is a meeting between St Francis of Assisi and the Muslim Sultan Al Malik Al Kalim. The Pera Ensemble and Mehmet Cemal Yesilçay take a look at this historic encounter. It shows how music united the most varied nations and religions even then, bringing about a creative synthesis of two worlds. The year is 1219. Appalled by the un-Christian behavior and barbaric cruelty of the Fifth Crusade shown by men who confess his own faith, Francis of Assisi sets out for Damietta in Egypt. His aim, to seek out Sultan Al Malik Al Kalim of Istanbul in the middle of a war and convert him and his court, is foolhardy and highly dangerous. In the military camp of the North Egyptian city, however, he comes upon a deep piety and a belief in the same God to whom Francis himself prays. He is never to reach his goal, any more than the Sultan, who has assumed Francis will be able to negotiate a peace settlement. In spite of this, the weeks they share together affect them both deeply, giving them ideas and inspirations which will influence each of them, as Christian and as Muslim, in later life. Christian and Muslim songs, instrumental improvisations, hymns of praise and Sufi songs from the 13th century are brought together by the Pera Ensemble, which unites internationally renowned European specialists in period performance practice with the élite of Turkish art music. The highly meditative character of this collection draws performers and listeners alike into the world of musical dialogue and gives them a sense of how the music has taught people the art of peaceful coexistence.