Bimhuis, Amsterdam, January 25

Trains and trams criss-crossing this city full of migrants from all nations form the compelling backdrop to the Bimhuis, perched dramatically on top of the Muziekgebouw on Amsterdam’s IJ waterfront. The stage’s panoramic windows offering a birds-eye view of people continually on the move was spot on for the Qasida project, just one highlight of artistic director Ernestina van de Noort’s third Netherlands Flamenco Biennale. Qasida, whose first outing was at Germany’s Morgenland festival in Osnabrück last summer, pursued a vital dialogue of traditions, involving the melismatic vocal techniques of Rosario ‘La Tremendita’ and Mohammad Motamedi from Iran. The contrast between the sheer beauty of flamenco’s distilled, passionate outpourings of the heart and the more inward, mystical philosophies of Persian poetry met exquisitely in a host of styles that searched for common rhythms, including soléa, nana and zarbi. Rosario’s immersion in Iranian poetry resulted in setting of texts like Hafez’s ‘Luna’ to flamenco’s melodic patterning, notably for a spine-tingling tientos-tangos, ending via stunning fandangos with spirited bulerías. Motamedi’s vocals mesmerised with a yodeling call fluctuating between close notes, matched by Rosario’s limpid tremolo. With Persian and flamenco modes interweaving through kamancheh (fiddle), guitars, bass percussion and palmas, Rosario’s audacious petenera was the cherry on the cake!

Jan Fairley