- Wedding Eve 4:56
- Hear The Drums 4:57
- Clinging Wine 6:16
- Rustle Of White Silk 22:50
- Eat, Drink And Be Merry 3:33
- The Bride's Trousseau 5:18
- Chalga 17:42
- Sweet Rakia 3:25
(The Brandy Bottle With The Red Ribbon)
THRACIAN RHAPSODY: The New Wedding Music of Bulgaria Vol. I
Featured artists are Yîldîz Ibrahimova, voice; Ivo Papasov, clarinet; Alexander Raitchev, gaida; The Christo Yotsov Trio; Philip Simeonov, clarinet, with Ensemble Trîstenik; and Mladen Malakov, clarinet, with Ensemble Bisery.
The new Bulgarian wedding music, a modern descendant of traditional Balkan folk, gypsy, and klezmer music, has taken Eastern Europe by storm; the excitement has spread to Western Europe and, now, the United States as well. These young musicians, riding on fiery, driving rhythms of extraordinary richness and complexity, have a stunning virtuosity, poignant expression, and ensemble excitement that is irresistible. The music, at once ancient and furiously contemporary, must be heard to be believed; it will take your breath away.
Originally performed at weddings, the new genre has found its place at all major festivals and rituals of life in Bulgaria. An instrumentation of voice, violin, clarinet, trumpet or flute, drums and accordion is often augmented by guitar and folk instruments like the kaval and gaida (Balkan flute and bagpipe). The majority of the players are gypsies.
The triumph of this music has been remarkably swift. Many of the current greats of Bulgarian wedding music (most of them are on this album) came to wide notice after 1985 at the annual village folk festivals in Stambolovo. These young musicians, steeped in traditional Balkan and gypsy music,have pioneered a new fusion using elements from Macedonian, Greek, Turkish, Romanian, Arabic and even Indian sources and are also influenced by contemporary classical music, pop and jazz. The whole, characterized by driving, asymmetrical meters and rhythms, and eastern melodic forms, is performed and improvised with emotional intensity, often at white heat. It is impossible not to respond to the breathtaking physicality of this music.
The great Bulgarian folk/jazz singer Yîldîz Ibrahimova and the clarinetists Ivo Papasov, Philip Simeonov and Mladen Malakov, all come out of the folk/gypsy tradition and most of the instrumentalists on the record are of Rom (gypsy) descent. All these performers possess levels of technique and improvisatory powers that extend instrumental possibilities into new realms of virtuosity and imagination. Papasov's expressive duets with Ibrahimova represent yet another, highly personal side to this art form.
Other instruments include the kaval, a flute that uses Eastern non-tempered scales, producing melodies and harmonies of bitter-sweet flavor. The gaida is played with extraordinary virtuosity and originality by Alexander Raitchev. Drums and percussion include the tîpan, carried with a shoulder strap and played with heavy and light beaters.
The new wedding music of Bulgaria has been described as a grass-roots phenomenon which has travelled from popular to high culture in a short time. It combines improvisation, exquisite melody, daring technical innovation, irreverence and change as well as dynamism, excitement and highly charged feeling. Criticized and suppressed under communism, it has literally exploded in recent years and its appeal now far transcends the region that gave it birth.
The music that has come to be known as "Bulgarian wedding music" has always been a strange mix of odd bedfellows. Jazz, folk songs, popular and ancient dances all seem to be brought together in this music, and proponents like Yuri Yunakov have seemingly stretched the idea to the limits. At least until you hear this collection of music.
The set starts off with two of the big names in Bulgarian music,
clarinetist Ivo Papazov and singer Yildiz Ibramimova. But expect the
unexpected here. The two present duets for reed and voice alone, in an eerie, post-modern style that is as much Meredith Monk as Balkan celebration. The pair squeak, squawk and shout a freeform music that is sometimes sweet and beautiful, and sometimes way on the outside.
Two tracks feature the Christo Yotsov Trio, led by drummer and
percussionist Yotsov with Nedyalko Nedyalkov on kaval (an end-blown flute) and Stoyan Yankulov on tipan, a large frame drum. This is Gypsy jazz á la Max Roach, and Nedyalkov's flute playing is raw, wild and played with virtuosity and abandon.
Another track focuses on clarinetist Philip Simonov with the ensemble Tristenik. This is the full-throttle "wedding band" we've come to know.
Accordion, electric guitar, saxophone and percussion lend the music a pop overdrive on an epic 22 minutes of jazz, roots, and wild, dancing grooves that gives you a bit of the genuine feel of a real night of post wedding partying. Another clarinetist, Mladen Malakov, with the band Bisery, also offer a lengthy work, a 17 minute suite that starts as a slow, mournful Bulgarian country song and then bursts into a high energy dance piece in more of those impossible to count Balkan time signatures. Soloists Aliyosha Shibelev (accordion) and Matiyo Dobrev (kaval) show the limitless
possibilities of both the music and their instruments.
The set ends, somewhat out of character, with a searing gaida (bagpipe) solo by Alexander Raitchev. Dark foreboding comes from some seriously weird bass tones and Raitchev's skill provides the listener with some unusual melodic and rhythmic surprises to sum up an album full of them.
– Cliff Furnald / rootsWorld
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