The Oud is a sensual instrument even before it is strummed, with a polished pear-shaped body and elegant angled pegbox, and when it was played it became an object not only of visual beauty, but also of inspirational aural grace. Many Middle Eastern writers have described its sound as possessing healing and transformatory powers. It is a wonder, considering the instrument’s beauty, that its shape is said to have been inspired by the dead body of the seventh generation grandson of Adam as it hung from a tree.
Samir, the eldest brother, told us at the end of the first piece that they wanted to slowly build up to the climax of the show. The first piece was so elating that it was hard to conceive how the atmosphere could intensify and yet, as the rhythms quickened and the audience was invited to sing, as Samir shrieked and Yousef Hbeitsh kept us guessing with his unpredictable and exhilarating percussion style, the trance-like state that the room had fallen into did indeed deepen so that at the end of the finale the room erupted into a standing ovation.
The interplay between the brothers conjured up images of brotherly play fights and disputes, and of the deeper respect and pride the brothers held in one another. Samir might play a riff that is instantly copied by Wissam, then ingeniously built upon by Adnan until it is finally defiantly trumped by Samir. Throughout they smile at each other, now mischievously, now encouragingly, lost in a world of notes. Their performance is absolutely enthralling and I cannot urge you enough to get tickets for one of their remaining British concerts. Thank you Big Village! We are so lucky to have this organization based in Oxford, bringing us superb music from around the globe. Big Village organizes regular concerts, the next one being on 11th December - get involved!