Bulgaria is a small country with a wonderfully rich musical tradition. Countless are the peoples who have passed through this country and left their mark on its music. Bulgarian folk music combines a rich flora of styles, dance rhythms and songs for all life’s occasions.
Folk music and dance was still very much alive in Bulgaria in the second half of last century, and in the 1979s and 80s Bulgarian song made triumphant headway into world music and rock, fascinating audiences and inspiring musicians around with world with its special vocal style and irregular dance rhythms.
The recordings on this album were made at a time when the tradition was still very vibrant in Bulgaria and modern recording techniques opened up new opportunities for its documentation.
Half of the material on this CD was performed by singers, ensembles and musicians from villages and provincial towns. Deben Bhattacharya, the legendary music ethnologist from Bengal, arrived in a Bulgaria that was positively teeming with amateur ensembles. Schools, factories and many other such places all had their own song and dance group.
The rich and ancient folk tradition, which was tied to the seasons of the year, working life and the ages of mankind, thus entered modern Bulgarian society, and regional playing styles were kept alive. The shop women with their characteristically powerful vocals are included here, along with the gayda (bagpipe) from the Rhodope Mountains, epic songs and Thracian dance music.
Amongst the Bulgarian players and singers were also those who chose a professional career, augmenting their talent with studies at music academies and performing in professional ensembles. This is reflected in the material on the second half of this album, some of which has been sourced from Bulgarian Radio’s abundant archives. Here can be heard many of the artists who, a few years later, would help to spread Bulgarian music to all four corners of the world. Professional performers with their roots in their villages, and, often, a music diploma in their caps. This CD contains almost everything: legendary singers, the Bulgarian Radio women’s choir and the most famous dance tunes. Musicians include Kostadin Varimezov on the gayda, now almost a household name in Sweden after his many visits, and Stojan Velichkov, one of the country’s legendary virtuosos of the kaval, a traditional end-blown flute.
This is an exposition of Bulgarian folk music at its best from the crossroads where east meets west. A welcome reunion for old music buffs and a wonderful experience for new.