Kamyar Mohajer’s PICTURES OF THE HIDDEN honors the composer’s “four Grand Masters:” Johann Sebastian Bach, Persian poet Hafez, and his parents. In this album, Mohajer shares his artistic upbringing by combining his roots in Persian modality with his love of Western classical music.
The eponymous piece, a set of five songs for voice and piano, feature the works of the Persian poet Hafez. In the multi-tiered composition, Mohajer draws from childhood memories of his mother’s singing. Used with Hafez’s poetry, which adores a superior spirit called “Beloved,” Pictures of the Hidden reaches towards a higher meaning, honoring the perfection of an all-powerful Spirit. Each song, sung in Persian by soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghma, brings a motherly passion to the depth of Hafez’s poetry. With Karolina Rojahn on piano, the composer combines the story-like motifs and counterpoint of Bach-inspired piano composition with the brilliant virtuosity of Shehabi-Yaghma. In Reng, Mohajer shares the conventions of his native music. The dance , for instance, is built on a syncopated 6/8 rhythm characteristic of Persian dances throughout history. The dance signals a release, a giving up of self to the joy of music and movement. The album concludes with a stunning performance by the acclaimed Alexander String Quartet, who communicate the contrasting feelings of melancholic longing and swift energy – a task perfect for strings and their ability to produce sound across the dynamic spectrum.
Though the album is Mohajer’s debut, PICTURES OF THE HIDDEN is more than just an artistic expression of self. Rather, the album celebrates the past figures who shaped his present context, and demonstrates how art can leave humanity in a better place for having experienced it.