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Göksel Baktagir is one of Turkey's most acclaimed maestros of the hammered dulcimer called quanun. His Hayal Gibi 2 was one of my favorite discoveries of last year. It ranks right besides Anouar Brahem's Le Pas Du Chat Noir as a timeless, simply ravishing album of profound simplicity and elegance. Bogaziçi | Bosphorus is its precursor. It teams Baktagir with Murat Ceyhun Çelikten on digital piano.

Though the quanun is capable of violent virtuosity just like its Roumanian cymbalom counterpart -- which endlessly obsessed Liszt for being able to play more notes in one second than he could -- Baktagir's mastery is such that he nearly exclusively refrains from such dazzling displays of pyrotechnics. Instead, he dazzles us with a more introspective essence of brilliance. Surprisingly, this evokes memories of Japanese koto flavors at times.

In keeping with the title, this album revolves around circular and fluid themes. The absence of percussion allows for ultra flexible time keeping and spontaneous but short-lived time changes mid-tune. Like Smetana's symphonic Moldau, we feel transported down a mighty river. At times barely progressing beyond a lazy meander, at others rapidly gushing through rocky white waters; sometimes narrow and intimate, sometimes broad, pastoral and elegiac; the imagery of flowing water and glistening light refractions remains a constant throughout.

The interplay between quanun and piano is seamless, with Çelikten avoiding the piano's percussive and chordal abilities to instead focus on its melodic legato qualities. Though perhaps conceptually somewhat incongruous, the actual execution proves otherwise and makes the outcome seem like plenty of precedents would exist - which don't. Based on the moods of Bogaziçi, it doesn't seem too farfetched to place it somewhere in the milieu established by Debussy's small-scale music - though hard parallels of course fall short. Still, think impressionist chamber music -- or music for a rainy day you can put on endless repeat and discover new nuances without getting bored -- and you're close to the center of Bosphorus.