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Music of the Tatra Mountains – Ginek Wilczek’s Bukowina Band
March, ozwodna, krzesany, zielona [3:18]
2 ozwodne, ballad, drobny, krzesany, ozwodna, zielona (sung wierchowe) [8:29]
March, ozwodna, sung wierchowa, 2 ozwodne [5:33]
Wierchowa, 2 ozwodne, krzesany, wierchowa, ozwodna, Brigands' tune [8:30]
Brigands' march, ballad, the Brigands' dance sequence, "Oh, Suzannah" [7:36]
wierchowa, ozwodna, ballad [4:11]
Ballad "Krywaniu" [2:05]
Goralski dance sequence: 2 ozwodne, ballad, march, wierchowa, 4 krzesane, zielona [8:40]
Spisz tune, krzesany, 2 ozwodne, 2 Spisz tunes [7:41]
3 wierchowe [2:03]
March, ozwodna, krzesany, Spisz czardasz [8:14]
2 ballads, krzesany, zielona [5:22]
Ginek Wilczek’s Bukowina Band
rec. at Dom Ludowy, Bukowina, Poland on 9 September 1994.
NIMBUS NI 5464 [71:48]
Music of the Tatra Mountains –The Trebunia Family Band
2 wierchowe, ozwodna, 2 krzesane, 2 drobne [6:00]
4 Sabalowe, 2 ozwodne [5:16]
Goralski dance sequence: wierchowa, drobny, 3 krzesane, zielona* [4:20]
Waltz, Slovak tune, Spisz tunes [6:08]
2 wierchowe, 3 krzesane, drobny, ballad, ozwodna, wierchowa [7:08]
Krzesany, drobny-Sabalowa, krakowiak, 2 polkas [5:21]
Ozwodne, ozwodna, 2 Spisz tunes, 4 tunes for the Brigands' dance [9:43]
Polka, Goralski dance sequence: 2 ozwodne, 4 krzesane, drobne, 2 krzesane, zielona
4 wedding polkas, 3 Spisz tunes, ozwodna, 4 tunes from Spisz [11:57]
2 wierchowe, 2 ozwodne, Sabalowa, 2 drobne, zielona II, 2 wierchowe [7:53]
(*'green tune' = ozwodna played at the end of the dance sequence)
rec. at Dom Kultury, Poronin, Poland on 7 September 1994
NIMBUS NI 5437 [72:07]
Experience Classicsonline


This is the music of the Tatra Highlands and it bears the mark of field trip sessions such as those organised by Alan Lomax. The recording circumstances were convivial and informal and consisted of a music session familiar to the musicians. Food and drink were served and authentic costume worn not for parading ethnicity or for the propagation of folkloric superficiality but rather because the musicians wanted to. The location for the first session was the Dom Ludowy in Bukowina with its attractive wooden construction – again a building well known to all the musicians. The food, drink and music incited spontaneous dancing. Similarly The Trebunia Family Band were recorded in the Dom Kultury in Poronin where its first violin Władysław Trebunia teaches

The specifics of ‘Gorale’ music are attended to in the excellent and extensive booklet notes for both these issues. Ginek Wilczek, the shepherd fiddler – his surname is Vlček in Czech or ‘Little Wolf’ in English - plays the first violin or prym whilst there is a sekund I and sekund II and bass; three fiddles and a small three stringed bass in other words. The first violin takes the melody whilst the supporting fiddles provide the harmony and also double the melodic line. In this recording there are a couple of songs in which a second prym is employed  - the scale is the Lydian mode. These flattened sevenths are omnipresent and give the music a distinctive sound. This kind of music is ceremonial, or impromptu, and feasts on dance patterns – circle and brigands’ dances, polkas, waltzes, and the specific tunes have their own nuances depending on who plays.

The sound of the band might be considered rough to ears unaccustomed to the traditions it espouses. The tempo variations are remarkably dynamic, the harmonic backing and intertwining of the sekund parts frequently overwhelming; shrill shouts and whistles announce tempo increases. There’s an especially catchy Brigands’ March [track 5] and ensuing series of dance musics before we end, rather unexpectedly, with Stephen Foster’s Oh Susannah. I’m not sure whether it’s my imagination – or whether the alcohol was beginning to flow – but the later songs do generate an increasing dynamism. There’s an especially fine example of the women singers’ vitality in the ballad Krywaniu [track 7].

The second disc is devoted to the music of The Trebunia Family Band and was recorded at the Dom Kultury, Poronin, a couple of days earlier. The band is slightly smoother in execution than Wilczek’s. The polyphonic singing before the extended dance sequences are highly accomplished, the solo voice and call and response patterns elsewhere equally so. The accelerandi of the sekund fiddles and their slowing on the vocal entry – try track 3 as a prime example – shows how effective such devices can be. And for an example of a truly intoxicating tune go for track six, the drobny Sabalowa – terrific. In fact this band calls on a splendid range of dance tunes, and swinging tempi and its singers, solo or unison, are splendid throughout.

Both bands in fact reflect the vibrancy and vitality of music in the Tatras. The booklet notes are packed full of background and deft musicological information. And I can guarantee that the one thing you won’t hear is a souped up ‘folkloric’ version of, say, John Lennon’s Imagine – as I did from a Slovak band on ‘their’ side of the Tatras, when they saw me coming, in more senses than one.

Jonathan Woolf 


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