Over the years, Network’s book-format anthologies have charted the “blues” inherent in a variety of musical cultures throughout the world, documenting this expressive form in music, text and photos. This time, the Network team has spent two years researching the vast treasures of Balkan music.
The resulting Balkan Blues anthology sheds a new and different light on the deeply rooted cultural traditions and views that have so often sparked political and religious conflict in this region, for this double CD clearly shows that the music of the Balkans knows no national or ethnic boundaries. Balkan Blues is a musical journey through seven different countries, tracing two aspects of the Balkan soul – on the one hand, ballads that tell of pain and hope, and on the other hand the magical exuberance of the virtuoso performances that accompany joyous celebrations.
From Romania, we hear the melancholy ballads of the great masters Toni Iordache and Dumitru Farcas on cimbalon and taragot, and the legendary fiddler Stoican. We hear the inimitable vocal polyphony of Bulgaria and Albania, as well as a Wallachian Suite by the Bulgarian All Star Orchestra and some incredible solos on ancient instruments such as the gadulka, the kaval and the gaida. Greece brings us the highly accoladed clarinetist Petro-Loukas Chalkias with his Kompania, traditional remebtiko songs with original instruments, maverick lyra player Psanrantonis, and the gently poetic songs of Loudovikos. Serbia’s favourite musicians present the wild side of totally unfettered celebration. From the Bosnian mountains, we hear a heart-rending ballad of love. Macedonia is represented by Esma Redzepova, queen of Roma song, and by the brass orchestral sound that is to be found only in the Balkans, as well as by legendary clarinetist Ferus Mustafov, who composed the title track specially for this anthology.
More than half the tracks in this collection have never been recorded before, or are recorded here on CD for the first time. The lucid text was written by Professor Dr Manfred Bartmann of the University of Salzburg, a recognised authority on Balkan music. As he writes, “The 34 tracks on this CD eloquently document that the musical styles of the Balkans were never really “national” styles. In this awareness lies a glimmer of hope.”
2 CDs :