One of music’s most widely travelled explorers and an indefatigable advocate for intercultural understanding and world peace, Jordi Savall here returns with another extraordinarily rich multicultural
musical offering: the music of the Balkans. As Savall writes in an introductory booklet note, he and his fellow musicians from different cultures “have delved into this extraordinary historical, traditional and even modern musical heritage to study, select and perform it, thereby creating a genuine intercultural dialogue between the different cultures that have so often been torn apart by dramatic, age-old conflicts.”
 
The result is a vivid collection of traditional (instrumental) folk songs and dances – some joyful, some melancholy – largely drawn from Ottoman and Sephardic repertories. Five different ensembles have been configured for the different yet interrelated styles and traditions: Bulgarian and Macedonian, Gypsy and Hungarian, Serbian and Romanian, Turkish and Greek and Bosnian and Sephardic. The instrumentation is equally rich and includes accordions, violins, viols, lyres, guitars, ouds, a psaltery, percussion, ney and kaval flutes and a qanun (zither).
 
A lively ‘Balkan Prelude’ from Serbia but with Turkish elements opens the disc, with some dazzling accordion and percussion work especially. What follows is a veritable crosscultural smorgasbord, including a soulful Romanian doina and faster hora (dance), a jaunty Bulgarian chichovata, a raucous Greek sousta and a gypsy dances aplenty.

So infectious is the music, so passionate are the performances, that the only difficulty will be restraining yourself from weeping profusely or leaping onto a table and dancing with wild abandon. The recording and packaging are up to Alia Vox’s impeccable standards.

 

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