2. Harwilu li bayta lahma
3. Al-ywam b-bayt laham
4. Fi saknat al-lay
5. Ar-Rab yuwlad
6. Ibn Mariam dża-a
Barbara Kinga Majewska - voice
Marcin Masecki - piano, cembalo, keyboard
The carols recorded by Barbara Kinga Majewska and Marcin Masecki are the songs for the time of contempt that we live in. The era of rising xenophobia replacing care and empathy in relation to the growing number of defenceless victims of wars, conflicts and other calamities. When thousands of unwanted strangers, searching for shelter from a certain death, die at the gates of fortified Europe, we cannot sing about any joyful news as we have always done.
This belief guided the decisions regarding the arrangements of the carols on this album. Major keys turn into minor keys and give the pieces a different character and emotional registers. Instead of joy, triumph, there is a sense of melancholia, sadness, nostalgia for something which has been irrevocably lost. In such an atmosphere, every news of birth has the potential to become an introduction to grief. The carols are also sung in a decelerated tempo and offer a meandering rhythm of wandering rather than a lively melody. Finally, their lyrics have been translated into a dialect used in the region of Aleppo, the place which, in the last couple of years, has become the symbol of the ravages of war and senseless massacres of innocent people.
In these simple arrangements, when a sole voice is accompanied by isolated instruments—the harpsichord, piano, keyboard—the songs becomes more and more similar to a silent complaint.But why should carols today deal with lamentations? Because for the last two thousand years nothing has been changed in human relations, as proven by every refugee rejected at the gates, every negative thing said against the others, every act of ignorance and indifference towards human suffering. In the context of the present world and its state, the songs run out of words, begin to sound in strange keys, only trying to express their disagreement and frame the unknown beauty of other languages and other traditions.
These carols are, however, something more than an echo and a lamentation—they are also a form of meditation. On what? For example—on the reasons why we lost the human impulse of empathy that we so eagerly praise in songs sung at Christmas tables. Why we forgot about the simple gestures of helping the oppressed, poor and abandoned which were familiar to common shepherds greeting God before all the high and mighty of this world two thousand years ago.
And, perhaps, on the fact that it is still possible to sing all this in a different, better way.