Review By Jeremy Marchant ,Fanfare,September 2010
This album contains 16 traditional folk songs and dances from a small area of Europe, arranged for flute and guitar. If that appears to be the basis of a rather unpromising recital, in fact this CD offers exceptional interest and diversity. The Balkans is an area substantially smaller than Texas, yet it houses 55 million people in some 10 countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and so on) with a multitude of cultures, languages, religions, civilizations, and centuries of conflict. I have no idea whether the selection here is representative of the peoples of the Balkans, but it ranges impressively in style, mood, and color.
Review By Michael Cameron ,Fanfare,September 2010
There is an important trend in music that doesn’t yet seem to have a name. As interest in indigenous non-classical music from various cultures gathers steam, hybrids between these and classical music continue to draw scrutiny from audiences and performers, most famously Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. These influences can be traced back centuries, of course (i.e., Mozart’s interest in Turkish music is but one example), but the influence has gone far beyond the colorful additions of particular instruments or a specific regional tang added to an otherwise Western piece. Many of these styles are entering the very DNA of our music as a natural extension of globalization. The name Third Stream was coined a half century ago by Gunther Schuller to describe “a new
This terrific new disc of flute/guitar duos occupies one of the many possible points on the classical/folk continuum. Since it consists entirely of music of the Balkans, it also occupies a critical space on the East/West divide. In a nutshell, the music consists of arrangements of songs and dances from the region, commissioned by the Cavatina Duo, one of whom hails from the region (Bosnian guitarist Denis Azabagic) and one of whom doesn’t (Spanish flutist Eugenia Moliner). The notes don’t refer to the use of improvisation in any of the works, but there is a sense of spontaneity to many of the pieces that suggests that the original sources may have employed extemporaneous methods in part.
There is probably still a pervasive belief among many music lovers that “folk” denotes unwavering simplicity, a stereotype that should long ago have been dashed among those with even a cursory knowledge of this region. Some of these works exhibit a dizzying complexity of meter that would confound many a trained classical performer. Even traditional love songs can be found in odd meters, such as the endearing Macedonian song Eleno, Kerko Eleno, in 7/8 throughout. The signature augmented fourth interval so common in the Middle East can be heard in this disc as being a part of this region as well, the apt label for the scale being the “Balkan Minor.” The closest the collection comes to the inclusion of a suite is the Four Macedonian Pieces by Miroslav Tadic. The opening “Jovna Kumanovka” has beguiling melody in a lightly syncopated lilt, and the tune is tossed between the flute and different registers of the piano. The guitar line of “Padushko” sizzles, and the dance pushes ahead in an almost dizzying 5/8 meter.
The duo is unerringly captivating in this literature. Moliner has a rich, soulful tone that suits the music perfectly, and Azabagic has plenty of chops to negotiate the demands of this frequently virtuosic work. The natural audience for this disc would be flutists, guitarists, and students of the region, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not finding lots of pleasure here.