In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
In 1951, the father of Bulgarian concert folk music, Philip Koutev, established the Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic. His goals was to join the rich heritage of his country's solo folk songs with harmonies and arrangements that highlighted their beautiful timbres and irregular rhythms. One year later, the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir was founded. Then as now, its members are singers from the rural regions of Bulgaria, each an informal apprentice in the folk songs of her home. The ensemble, now under the direction of conductor Dora Hristova, has refined Koutev's original idea into a fine art. The Choir's imaginatively arranged songs join traditional folk melodies with sophisticated harmonies and compelling rhythms, performed in an exotic six-part vocal style. Repertoire is drawn from arrangements created by Bulgaria's most esteemed composers, among them Mr. Koutev, Krasimir Kyurkchiyski, Nikolai Kaufman and Petar Lyondev.
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Review: The famous choir named The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices conducted by Dora HRISTOVA again conveys its challenge to Bulgarian folk music lovers, this time with their interpretation of songs from the most widely spread and cherished customs, those at Christmas and at St. Lazar's Day. The songs sung at Christmas and St. Lazar's Day lend specific colour in the repertoire of many ensembles. This programme is a successful attempt to select songs which represent a comparison between the two customs. Christmas is celebrated on the day when the church commemorates Christ's nativity. Yet the deep meaning of the custom is in the ancient pagan beliefs about the birth of the new sun. There are young men-Christmas-carollers and their leader is always an older man, called stanenik. According to the custom, the time for Christmas celebration is specifically set - from midnight till sunrise. The Christmas carollers make their rounds always starting to the west. They sing songs glorifying the host in every house and bless him for health and fertility. In their turn, the hosts present them with Christmas ring-shaped buns decorated with a coin and meat, beans, etc.
Songlist: First Song on the Road, Second Song on the Road, We Sing A Song for You, Cheers, Cheers to You, Master of the House, Beautiful Milka, We Sing A Song for You, A Girl Bragged, A Mighty Boy Is Saddling His Horse, Turbid Waters Were Flowing, Song on Going Out of the House, Oh, Lazar, Lazarski Bouenets, Lazar Is Coming, Lazar Is Roaming, There's A Willow, There's No Willow, Lazarska Song for the Bride, Lazarski, Beautiful Girl, Young Girls Lazaritsi, Well Aren't We Dancing, Strapping Nikola, Mother's Only Son, Lament for Lazar
Review: This is an original 1955 French recording of the Ensemble, a group of women from the mountains and plains of Bulgaria, who performed for nearly a month in Paris along with local dancers and a village orchestra. This group was the predecessor of the famed Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir. These are 18 traditional Bulgarian folk songs, some accompanied, that translate to such titles as 'Mother Has Decided to Marry Me Off,' 'Theodora Is Dozing,' 'The Moon Shines,' 'A Young Girl At Parting,' 'Niagol Talks to Milka,' 'The Bird Has Come,' 'Come to Supper Tonight Rada,' 'The Drums Roll,' and 'Iana Has Been Surprised in the Night.' The ringing, rhythmic harmonies of this ancient music surprise and delight us, reminding us of the power and expressiveness of the human voice in expressing emotions.
Songlist: Retche Mama Da Me Jeni, Polgnala E Todora, Shopski Tanz, Ogreyala Meettchinka, Trio Gaidi, Otishla Moma Hubava, Nygagul Na Milka Dumashe, Prehfrakna Ptichka, Zaspala E Fida, Bre Petrounko, Vetcheryai Rado, Bulgarska Suita, Buren Burem Zelen Buren, Stoyen Ide Ot Tsarigrad, Tamburi Drankat, Prez Gora Varvyaha, Todora Vetcheryala, Zamraknala E Yana
Review: 'Ritual' is an unusual recording for the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. For one thing, two male guest artists make appearances on two of the songs and a measure of instrumentation on half a dozen tunes includes one instrumental (gasp!). It's a wonderful dance tune which only enhances the feel of the recording dealing mostly with tunes meant for St. Lazar's Day and also Christmas carols. This recording (1994) is the first studio album since the group's two Le Mystere anthologies of the late 1980's. The tradition established by Philip Koutev in the 1950's of applying the compositional methods of concert practice to folk material is still the origin of the famous sound of this choir, now directed by Dora Hristova. Another fascinating aside on this recording is the group singing 'A Jewish Triptych (Sephardic)' composed and arranged by Nikolai Kaufmann. This is glorious music that anyone literate in world music should know.
Songlist: Houbava milka, Pesen na put, Koledarska pesen, Trakiisko nastoenie, Lazarski bouenets, Nazdrave ti, chorbadjiio, Shopski tantsek, La rosa en floresa, A senora novia, Lamenta, Bulgarski einicheski meloii, Moma houbava, Vurba, Za mlado momiche, Mur stho sme se razigrali, Tebe peem-za ovchariya, Ai nazdrave, Zhalba za lazar
Review: The distinctive sounds of Bulgarian folk singing come from many cultural influences, as a country that was under the rule of the Tartar from central Asia and the Ottoman Turks. Many Asian elements can be heard in the use of modal scales, dissonant harmonies and rhythmical and metrical variety. The diaphonic singing tradition of two voices moving in parallel seconds, sevenths or ninths along with the metallic vocal timbres is preserved in the many arrangements. To western ears, this style of singing seems very strange. The a cappella singing is occasionally accompanied by traditional instruments. On this recording can be heard the flute-like kaval (Pritouritze Planinata), and the fiddle-like gadulka (Brei Yvane). The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir is led by Philip Koutev and Krasimir Kyurkchiyski who were the forefathers of the Bulgarian folk movement. From the dissonance of 'Pilentze Pee' to the beautiful melody of 'Polegnala e Todora' this music is simple and enormously diverse.
Songlist: Pilentze Pee (Pilentze Sings), Svatba (The Wedding), Kalimankou Denjou (The Evening Gathering), Strati na Angelaki Doumasche (Haiduk Song), Polegnala e Pschenitza (Harvest Song from Thrace), Messetschinko lio Greilivko (Love Song from the Mountains), Brei Yvane (Dancing Song), Erghen Diado (Song of Schopsko), Sableyalo mi Agontze (The Bleating Lamb), Pritouritze Planinata (Song from the Thracian Plain)
Review: This second volume of Le Mystere des voix Bulgares features performances by the Bulgarian State Radio and Televison Female Choir and the Female Vocal Choir, Sofia. This dynamic music comes from an oral tradition. Though the true folk style is dying out, these songs are preserved in modern versions which combine folk with classical elements creating a new art form. Bulgarian vocal music is usually sung by women who are picked for the natural beauty of their voices. The performances on this CD were recorded in the 70's and 80's. 'Ovdoviala Lissitchkatka' recorded in 1957, however, sounds closer to the original folk style than the more artfully arranged pieces. All of these pieces are truly fascinating. GRAMMYwinner in 1990.
Songlist: Kaval Sviri (Thrace) (The Flute Plays), Stani Mi, Maytcho (Rhodopes) (Get Up, My Daughter), Di-Li-Do (Pirine) , More Zajeni Se Ghiouro (Shopsko) (Ghioro Marries), Tche Da Ti Kupim Bela Seitsa (Rhodopes) (I'm Going to Buy You Some White Silk), Ovdoviala Lissitchkata (Dobroudja), Messetchinko Lio (Rhodopes) (You, Little Roujke), Dragana I Slavei (Thrace) (Dragana's Song), Atmadja Duma Strachilu (Thrace) (revolutionary song), Dve Tourlaski Pesen (Shopsko) (Teasing), Trenke, Todorke (Shopsko), Bezrodza Nevesta (Shopsko) (Young Childless Wife), Izpoved (Rhodopes) (Confession), Ghiore Dos (Thrace) (Teasing), Spis Li, Milke Le (Rhodopes) (If You Are Sleeping, Milke)