Balkan Spirit Borin Cocek [3.51] Doina, hora [5.28] Ta xyla & Cecen kizi [2.59] Chichovata [3.35] Der makam-t Huseyni Sakil-i Aga Riza [3.31] Zajdi, zajdi [5.22] Sborenka [2.29] Azt hittem hogy minden konnyem [5.28] Kovni [3.05] Cuando el Rey Nimrod [3.50] Sousta [3.20] Galabovska Ruchenitsa [4.27] Bilijana [4.38] Ciocarlia / Seva [2.21] Suite – Doina, Purtata, Hora ka la kaval [7.48] Sanie eu zurgalai [2.11] Suite – Hora de ascultare, Hora mare, Hora lui Dragoi [7.10] Vrcavo Kolo [2.32] Pastirska Elegija [3.41]
Hesperion XXI/Jordi Savall Milhailo Blam; Gyula Csik; Vilmos Dimchev; Bora Dugic; Tcha Limberger; Nedyalko Nedyalkov; Sloboban Prodanovic; Dimitri Psonis; Moslem Rahal; Zacharias Spryridakis
rec. Collegiale de Cardona in October and December 2012 and January and February 2013. ALIA VOX AVSA9898 SACD [79.15]
This – a typically lavishly-produced, beautifully documented disc from Alia Vox - brings together Savall’s Hesperion XXI with traditional folk musicians from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Bosnia, in traditional dances and folk music from the Balkan regions, including the gypsy, Sephardic and Tzigane traditions. Traditional instruments are, of course, used, including the oud, cimbalom, lyre, ney, psaltery and accordion. Yet the programme doesn’t just delve into the ancient past, but is brought up to date by the inclusion of works such as Z.... by twentieth century Serbian composer Sarijevsky and a Tzigane song written by Richard Stein in 1937.
The hefty booklet of 400 pages includes several interesting and well-written essays, setting the music in historical, geographical, political and cultural context, even including a timeline of events for the region from 330-2008 AD and a map. As usual the booklet is packed with full page (and occasionally double-page), full colour, atmospheric photographs from the recording sessions, covering all the different musicians. There is only one tiny thing that could be criticised in all of this, and that is that the actual track information only appears in French (the essays are translated in numerous different languages); although my rusty language skills can just about cope with this it would have been useful to have it in English!
The music itself is truly wonderful: joyful, beautiful, attractive, sparkling works, full of vibrancy and energy in their superb execution by the musicians. The styles and moods of course vary wildly – from the opening, gloriously upbeat – almost jazzy – Serbian folk dance Borin Cocek and Vrcavo Kolo – another a lively Serbian dance, through a humorous 1889 bird-song piece Ciocarlia / Seva to Doina, hora, a soulful gypsy-like Romanian melody in which the violin takes a central role, and Pastirska Elegija, the final track – a haunting Serbian song in an arrangement by Savall. Perhaps my favourite of all the works is Bilijana, a relaxing, gentle and jazzy Serbian song that is full sun and exuberance. A fabulous and immensely enjoyable disc.