Esprit des Balkans - Savall
Alia Vox AVSA9898
Classical - Vocal
Mihailo Blam (double bass), Gyula Csík (cimbalom), Vilmos Csikos (double bass), Valeri Dimchev (tambourine), Bora Dugic (frula), Tcha Limberger (violin), Nedyalkko Nedyalkov (kaval), Slobodan Prodanovic (accordion), Dimitri Psonis (santur, saz, lafta, Moorish guitar), Moslem Rahal (ney), Zacharias Spyridakis (lyre)
Jordi Savall once again enriches our view of a region teeming with history: the Balkans. Following on the success of Spirit of Armenia, Alia Vox, a label acclaimed for revealing hidden gems from the vast history of music, presents Balkan Spirit - a collection of music that sheds light on a little-known repertoire that conveys the whole spectrum of human emotions. Presented with both the iconographic richness and quality packaging that Alia Vox is famous for, this journey of musical discovery is another important milestone in the discography of Catalan master Jordi Savall and his ensemble Hesperion XXI.
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2 Doina, hora (Rumania)
3 Ta xyla & Çeçen kizi (Greece & Turkey)
4 Chichovata (North-west Bulgaria)
5 Der makam-i Hüseynï Sakil-i Aga Riza (Ottoman empire)
6 Zajdi, Zajdi by Aleksander Srijevski (Serbia)
7 Sborenka (Dobrudzha, north-west Bulgaria)
8 Azt hittem hogy minden könnyem (Gypsy)
9 Kovni (Traditional Kurdish)
10 Cuando el Rey Nimrod (Traditional Sephardic)
11 Sousta (Traditional from Pyrgos & Crete, Greece)
12 Galabovska Ruchenitsa (Thrace, south-west Bulgaria)
13 Bilijana (Pirin, south-west Macedonia)
14 Ciocârlia/Seva by Bora Dugic; after Anghelus Dinicu
15 Suite - Doina, Purtata, Hora ka la kaval (Rumanian/Gypsy)
16 Sanie cu zurgalai by Richard Stein (Gypsy)
17 Suite - Hora de ascultare, Hora mare, Hora lui Dragoi (Rumanian/Gypsy)
18 Vrcavo Kolo (Traditional central Serbian)
19 Pastirska Elegija (Serbian)
Review by John Broggio - June 19, 2013
Another marvellous disc from that musical traveller extraordinaire Jordi Savall!
Here, there is poignancy to the project which plays heavily towards Savall's well documented pacifist beliefs. Moving from one area of the Balkans to another as Savall invites us to do here emphasises the similarity of musical language found in the various countries that have torn themselves apart in "civil" war and, as one of the contributory notes warns, are apt to to do so again. A lesson in politics apart, which can easily be ignored if one only reads the first and last of the essays, this music is on the whole joyous and sometimes almost comically so.
There are a veritable emporium of instruments on use across the various geographic areas; some of which (like the cimbalom) are well known, the others of which are not but have an uncannily similar sound to other regional equivalents (perhaps not altogether surprising). Those items involving dance are hypnotic and it requires a great deal of willpower not to let the body start tapping/swaying in time to the music; the more reflective items are entrancing in their haunting beauty. It is tempting to single out one or more musicians for special mention but that would detract from the achievement of all; all of those involved should be very proud indeed of their artistry as demonstrated here.
Like most of these smaller scale discs (each has less than 10 musicians) from Alia Vox, the sound is almost tactile and it really sounds as if there is the most incredible soiree being hosted by ones listening room. The mimicry of bird song in track 14 has to be heard to be believed for both musicianship and recording qualities.
Very strongly recommended indeed.
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