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World - Released November 17, 2017 | harmonia mundi

When war erupted in Syria in 2011, Maya Youssef was living in London. For this virtuoso qanun player from Damascus, faced with unbearable violence and suffering of her homeland, her only refuge was in music. The compositions on this album came to her as antibodies against extreme sentiments. This album follows her journey across six painful years. In it, she has exchanges with the Iraqi oud player Attab Haddad, English cellist Barney Morse-Brown and the oriental percussionist Sebastian Flaig, under the helpful direction of the mythical producer Joe Boyd. Grave or airy, sad or pacific, the notes of the "eastern piano", also known as the qanun, always hit the mark, and the interventions of the other musicians frame and sharpen them. The central piece, The Seven Gates Of Damascus, is a summary of a musical and poetical spectacle that the musician put together to comfort refugee children in the camps. It holds out the promise of a little sunlight breaking over a dark and devastated world. Everywhere, nostalgia dominates but hope persists. Brilliant! © BM/Qobuz


Maya Youssef in the magazine