|Hakim plays Hakim,|
Signum Classics SIGCD-222
N.Hakim, Set Me As a Seal...,
Organ & Chamber Works
Najim Hakim, R.Tawil, J-P.Kuzma,
Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale
Signum Classics SIGCD-245
To Call My True Love To My Dance, Finale (excerpt)
I didn’t stumble across Hakim and his music until this September (I wasn't there when he was in DC in 2006, but Charles reported) when I heard “Arabesques pour orgue” at the ARD Competition (not included on these discs), to which Hakim had contributed the commissioned composition that every semi-finalist had to perform. What I wrote about Arabesques (“the work is, in short, a hoot—any piece of music that makes me grin, smile, seat-dance, and laugh in a concert setting has already won my heart… and [this] rollicking romp… does all that”) is true for the works on “Hakim plays Hakim”, too. The organist/composer loves the exuberant, the obviously playful, he cherishes movement and abandon. Song and dance are at the heart of more than just the “Arabesques” suite for organ (so its preface), as are the sometimes faint, sometimes strong Middle Eastern influences.
The chamber music with and without organ on “Set Me As a Seal Upon Your Heart” is different, less obviously ‘Hakim’. Variations on Carl Nielsen (Påskeblomst for string quartet) start things off in harmoniously-romantic manner, softly melting—then wildly veering—southwards in their varied course. The Variations on “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” sound like one of Rheinberger’s Organ-Violin Sonatas if the composer had traveled just a little further eastward. The Magnificat is soars prettily (borderline hokey), just as soprano Rima Tawil howls her way through “Set me as a Seal” and “Amazing Grace” in hyper-romanticized manner: forgettable low points of an otherwise wonderful CD. The Capriccio presents Hakimesque high jinks at their best; Die Taube enriches (!) the repertoire with a work for string quartet and voice.