classical music / Music / Podcasts / Radio

New Podcast – Restoring Arab Gramophone Records

Today we sample a a 4 CD release of singer Abd al-Hay Hilmî, a seductive dandy, who was the spoiled child of Egyptian high society at the turn of the century. He was known for his odd manners and would leave a concert he was giving if he failed to notice a pleasant looking face, be it male or female in the audience, and preferred to sing for handsome strangers. An obsessive drinker, he used various drugs to reach the state of saltana necessary to unleash his extemporizing creativity. He ended up worn by his excesses, and he died whilst drunk in Alexandria after a feast of sea turtle.
Cd-Hilmi-01-wwwHas he been forgotten? Not in the history of Arab music, nor the history of Egypt, but the recordings of his voice are few and far between, and decomposing. Thankfully Kamal Karim Kassar is responsible for AMAR, the largest Middle Eastern music collection in the world, in Lebanon, who have digitised and restored his works, and released this amazing CD. The AMAR archive is made up of around 7-10 thousand 78 rpm records, and tapes, dating back to the period of the start of recording between 1903 and the 1930s (the “Nahda” era).