Shirangi is a composer and pianist working in both western and Persian music. His acoustic and electronic compositions are performed throughout the Caucuses and Europe. His previous works have been recorded and released in Greece, the U.K. and the US.
Abbasi composes music for concert as well as for film and stage. He is a flutist and performs with the Tehran Flute Choir. He is an active presence throughout the Iranian music scene and is a board member on Iran’s Theatre Forum Association.
Brilliant, Haunting New Works From Iranian Composers Soheil Shirangi and Shervin Abbasi
by Delarue – New York Music Daily
Teheran-based composers Soheil Shirangi and Shervin Abbasi have released an aptly titled, haunting new album Maelstrom. It’s a diverse but persistently dark collection of works for both solo instruments and small ensembles. The two draw on influences from European minimalism and traditional Iranian sounds. In a year of one horror after another – especially in Iran, which was one of the first countries crippled by propaganda and hysteria – this is indelibly an album for our time. Yet the music here also offers considerable hope and even devious humor.
The first work is Trauma, a Shirangi trio composition played by cellists Ella Bokor and Mircea Marian with accordionist Fernando Mihalache. The strings enter with a syncopated, mutedly shamanic drive that quickly rises to an insistent pedal point. The accordion first serves as a wary chordal anchor while the cellos diverge and then return with an increasingly stricken intensity, then wind out with plaintive washes.
Violinist Mykola Havyuk, clarinetist Yaroslav Zhovnirych and pianist Nataliya Martynova play Abbasi’s The Rebellion, beginning more hauntingly microtonal, its austere resonance punctuated by simple, forlorn piano incisions. Eerie, circling chromatics from the piano underscore troubled, anthemic phrases. A couple of vigorous flicks under the lid signals a wounded call-and-response: slowly but resolutely, a revolution flickers and eventually leaps from the desolation. The obvious comparison is the livelier moments in Messiaen’s Quartet For the End of Time.
By contrast, To Lose Hope – another Abbasi piece, featuring clarinetist Mykola Havyuk and a string quartet comprising violinists Marko Komonko and Petro Titiaiev, violist Ustym Zhuk and cellist Denys Lytvynenke – first takes shape as a hazy cavatina, Havyuk’s crystalline leads balanced by brooding cello and shivery vibrato from the rest of the strings. It’s the most distinctly Iranian piece here. The jauntiness, acerbity and suspense that follow are unexpectedly welcome. The point seems to be that hope is where you find it.
Afrooch, an Abbasi solo work played by violinist Farmehr Beyglou, requires daunting extended technique, shifting back and forth between ghostly harmonics, moody atmosphere, insistently hammering riffs, shivery crescendos and a call-and-response that grows from enigmatic to puckish.
The closing composition, Shirangi’s The Common Motivations is a solo piano piece, Sahel Abaei’s low murk contrasting with muted inside-the-gestures, expanding with spacious minimalist accents and eventually forlorn, Messiaenic belltone chords. If this is characteristic of the new music coming out of Iran these days, the world needs to hear more of it.