The earlier albums "Baroque oriental" (Echo Award 2012) and "Café" and a variety of concert appearances have given the Pera Ensemble a name for the musical association of Orient and Occident. Offering far more than charming but more or less random "crossover", ensemble director Mehmet Yesilcay takes inspiration from the shared historical roots of East and West. The resultant combination of seemingly distant sound worlds thus forges connections that centuries ago – on the streets of Levantine ports, say – really could have existed.
The album "Trialog" enters new, religious terrain, and here too there is a common Abrahamic source, through which the various confessions ultimately relate to one and the same God.
This is why "Trialog" couples Christendom and Islam with Jewish music. If we need a living template for this communion of faiths, we need only look as far as Istanbul, for more than 1000 years a melting-pot – and a cradle of cultures: Byzantium as the centre of the Christian faith and later the capital of the Ottoman empire, which accepted the Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from Spain at the end of the 15th century.
Mehmet Yesilcay has this to say in the booklet about his inspirations rendered in sound: "A world in which words are no longer enough, in which words are no longer needed. Music for the ONE, speaking the language of the heart: Baroque perceptions of the Deity and Sufi music. Aramaic hymns and Byzantine choirs. Sephardic prayers, a Hallelujah and Armenian sacred music. Oriental instruments for Vivaldi, a Baroque soundscape for Sufi music. – The hub of these various musical directions is always the same: a musical credo, surmounting boundaries and transcending confessions."
The awareness that comes from this experience leads to a deeper ideal of cultural encounter, which Yesilcay formulates thus: "Not integration in the sense of assimilation. Meeting the supposed stranger on equal terms of respect. Daring to break through the barriers in one's head and tread new paths together, because the longer you stand outside another's door, the harder it is to go in. We want to learn from history with music and meet the challenges of our day."
It is no surprise, then, that the variety of timbres and the roster of musicians far surpasses previous recordings by the ensemble, which here draws upon a range of soloists and several choirs. A detailed and aesthetically styled booklet with valuable supporting text and a wealth of pictures gives the visionary content suitable form – a jewel for all who have open ears and open hearts.