Album Title: Threshold of Light
Performer: Erol Parlak Baglama Quintet
Label: Acoustic Music GmbH 318.1378.2
Running time
: 46'03"

The long-necked Turkish lute called baglama or saz is the headline act in traditional Ottoman and divan music; Erol Parlak its undisputed modern-day master who has his own school and numerous source books to his credit. But that's not what distinguishes Threshold of Light. Said distinction belongs to hearing five baglamas concertizing together on repertoire culled from Anatolian, Persian, Afghan and Uzbek sources. Prior to the quintet's formation led by Erol Parlak and augmented by four of his students, no recorded precedent existed as the saz is usually either a solo instrument or accompanist.

Music historians and devotees of the baglama will take note that the album's 10 tracks are divided into three groupings each of which represents a particular school or playing style. 'Lesser' listeners like yours truly simply delight in the novelty of it all, the ancient spirit underlying it, the mix of timbres, the pure acoustical nature of the outing. Certain archetypal songs like "Istanbul Türküsü" enjoy such popularity that one has come upon them repeatedly before but never in this authentically Anatolian setting suggestive of Sülyeman courtliness. The "Turkish March" closer lifted straight from Wolfgang Amadeus merely underscores this focus by reminding us that much of Viennese culture had its roots in Turkey. Pour yourself a cuppa Turkish java, munch on some rosewater-laden pistachio sweets and study history the easy way - at the hands of evocative music, not droning tour-guide commentary.