MARWAN ABADO (Oud, Vocals) & PAUL GULDA (Harpsichord)

Trills without Frills

Where there is a relationship, by sheer necessity there needs to be space. If there was no room between those that relate, the relationship would have to end, having no place to thrive in.

Not only do Marwan Abado and Paul Gulda leave room for each other, they actually explore new musical rooms in concert together. Those of us who witnessed one of these live sessions can now take one home to enjoy it again: a relation-ship in full sail.

The Palestinian living in Vienna since 1985, and Vienna-born Paul. Paul and his pal from Palestine. There is something in the sound of these words, and the two of them go for this kind of thing, rhymes, alliteration, allusions, double meanings: „Bach to Beirut“- sounds almost „Back to Beirut“, however this return back is enacted in soul and spirit only: there is never a return to the same place. The place has changed since, and so have we.

Oud and harpsichord, this combination had a predecessor in the 1970ies, when Friedrich, Pauls´s father (on Clavichord) teamed up with the legendary Mounir Bashir from Iraq, a figurehead of arabic music and culture in the 20th century.

While these two celebrated the joys of spontaneous meeting and improvisational banter, Marwan and Paul have chosen their path much more carefully. It leads from the tended gardens of new compositions, onward through the lush scenery of wandering dunes, tenderly defined and fenced in by the music of J.S. Bach that crops up inbetween.

Marwan and Paul have discovered some new seedlings and plant them right into Bachs´s well-tempered orchard, throwing a handful of desert sand on top of it that turns to fertile ground for further flowering.

Paul´s Bach playing is moving, movable, flexible. We are moved in our seats as he stretches time and timing, never neglecting the rhythm udermeath. Rubato is the term to use here: the fine art of stealing time. Yet there is no mannerism, however freely the tempo may shift; straightforward in meaning. Isn´t this the seeming opposite to what is perceived as the essence of arabic music: the artful ornament, the flourish, the arabesque, as it were? Yet again, in all is the opposites, it all somehow fits together miraculously.

Marwan is conscious of the worth that constitutes a sparse room, of the void between sounds. He prefers to chisel a few notes in the right places, his rhetorics based on short exclamations and phrases. Sounding only a few notes, they are exposed to the sun, open for scrutiny. Marwan is the rarest of virtuosos, committed to omitting.

These players are not toying with commercial production, they would rather stumble over a new thought than ride along comfortably on the main road of mainstream. Their music doesn´t flow in concrete pipelines- it loves to meander like a meadow brook, branch out, dally under willows, play with the reeds that grow by the source.

As in a delta, the waters cross and mingle, and there even is a line in the lyrics of „Amdie“, that cites the knotting of paths, as if woven together.

Sometimes, Paul will dry up and muffle the sound of his harpsichord, making it murmur rather than ring brightly. This is of course due to the damping of each individual string with a piece of felt by pulling a lever. In german, this is called „ Lautenzug“- the lute register.

The word lute, of course, deriving from arabic term: Al-Oud. So, with a root in Beirut, here grows the fruit of lute and Prelude. Harpsichord and Oud belong together. Prelude and Fugue do. Ans so do Marwan and Paul. With some space inbetween.

Albert Hosp