I suppose it’s no secret that I’m drawn to Turkish music, particularly taksims on instruments such as the clarinet, kanun, oud, tambur, etc. But taksims on the keman, the violin – those immediately get my attention. I’m quite sure my fascination stems from hearing the çiftetelli – not in the sense that the word ‘çiftetelli’ is most commonly associated with, the belly dance (although the dance and rhythm are all part of what makes up the çiftetelli). But instead, the original Turkish meaning of the word çiftetelli itself, which is “with double strings.” Upon listening to this track, you will hear what I mean.
The Columbia Records imprint had been in Turkey since at least the 1920s. By 1936 or so, because of a steep import tax put in place by the Turkish government, a Turkish pressing plant had been established by HMV/EMI (of which Columbia was a part). The pressings from that plant are, in my experience, of exceptional quality if found in clean condition. I have no idea how many records were recorded by the great Kemanî Amâ Recep, whose name means “Recep, The Blind Fiddler.” I have found two on Turkish Columbia, and they are both masterful performances, all of them taksims. I believe a few of Recep’s compositions were popular enough to even be released much later as 45s, believe it or not. This, a slowly played çiftetelli, is performed with a small group of players, including clarinet, percussion, and qanun….but the piece itself is all about the blind fiddler. It was recorded in Istanbul, between April and July 1939. Res ipsa loquitur: the thing speaks for itself.
Issue Number: RT 17856
Matrix Number: CTZ 6205
The Resources page lists a number of CDs featuring music from vintage Turkish 78s, but I would particularly recommend the Masters of Turkish Music CD series on Rounder, put together by Dick Spottswood and others.
Thanks to Bill Dean-Myatt for discographical information.