Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Roots of the Balkan - Music from Old Serbia: Dances and Songs from:-
Eastern Serbia

(Wedding dance and song (Tiny Peppercorn); Night Travel Melody; High trees Have no Shade; Three Dances)

(Ah! Mary my Sweet Dove; Black Earth my Sister; Hey You! Green Apple Tree; Spring Water; The Hawk Decides Where to Find Some Peace (two versions); Hey You! Green Willow; Come the Rain, Grow the Grass; The Dense Fog Came Down)
Central Serbia

(Four Dances; Three Dances; Two Dances; Seven Dances from Levach)
South Serbia

(The Maiden Puts the Grapevine in; Butcher's Wheel Dance; Jugglers' Play; Maidens Wheel Dance)
Ensemble Renaissance
Recorded in Studio 10, RTB, Belgrade, January - March 2001.
CPO 999 902-2 [68.42]

The rustic images on the cover of the CD booklet tell you everything and nothing about the music contained therein. The rural idyll illustrated shows one side, perhaps, of the double edged sword of the Serbian national character and history. Yet many of the slower pieces on this disc speak voluminously of the long standing turmoil and suffering of the Serbian and other nations which inhabit Europe's Balkan peninsula.

The twelve members of Ensemble Renaissance perform these pieces with true authority and, to this listener, they are authentic to the last. The group utilises upfront fiddles and bagpipes in addition to more local/regional instruments (saz, kaval etc.). The dance tunes, with their unusual and shifting time signatures, are everything you might imagine had sparked the imagination and creative impulse of Bartók on his field excursions to research the folk music of this and adjacent areas. The laments are indeed gut-wrenching stuff - Vojka Djordjević and Ljudmila Gross send shivers down the spine with their interpretations of the slower "songs". There are echoes of the work of, say, Norwegian folk singer Agnes Buen Garnås in her ground-breaking collaboration with Jan Garbarek (pre-Hilliards and Mari Boine!). This takes me to my main interpretative point about this recording and others of its ilk, namely that it brings home once again, as I have mentioned before in these pages, the connections, musically speaking, between Celtic, Nordic (and let's face it, British music is more or less an amalgam of those) and more Eastern (Balkan, Baltic, Russian, Indian, Chinese …) musical traditions. As an outsider, and with the potential only for a limited number of hearings, I am happy to sacrilegiously suggest that it is somewhat difficult to distinguish musically between the different areas of Serbia and its more remote outposts in Kossovo etc. However the music from the latter and from the east of the region does sound more Byzantine, middle-eastern even, in origin. Given the bête noire status of states such as Serbia, financially and politically speaking, I imagine that it is gratifying enough that this disc has actually been released at all. It is a profound and moving listening experience and I urge you to hear it, if you are at all interested in the fascinating musical traditions of this part of Europe.

A marvellous antidote to "globalised" "crossover" and not a synthesiser or drum machine in earshot to boot. CPO is to be congratulated on publicising this group and their honest, heartfelt music.

Neil Horner

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