With the exception of Boris Papandopulo, an important figure in the Croatian musical landscape of the 20th century, all the composers present on this album are guitarists. Born between 1955 and 1964, they are Dušan Bogdanović, from Belgrade, Bulgarian Atanas Ourkouzounov, born in Bourgas, Serbo-Croatian Mirolav Tadić, Greek Apostolos Paraskevas, from Volos and Vojislav Ivanović from Sarajevo. All the composers present on this album cultivate, in varied styles, the same vigor, the tremendous energy of the Balkans whose influence shows itself in their compositions through frequent changes of meters, through the use of strong accents as well as through the extreme beauty emanating from their nostalgic melodies. One could not imagine, for this music, a better ambassador than Zoran Dukić.
Six Balkan Miniatures
In the early nineties, when I was still living in San Francisco, I had a visit from Bill Kanengiser who was on the lookout for some music influenced by folk idiom. I showed him various compositions, but he focused on three little pieces that were sitting in my cupboard orphan-like and forgotten. So, I added three more movements to form a more substantial suite. The folk material and number six seemed to point to the six disintegrated republics that used to be known as Yugoslavia, the country I grew up in. The only literal quote of a dance is Vranjanka. The other movements, though based on ethnic music models, represent perhaps what Bartok named folklore imaginaire. After the painful war in my homeland in the Balkans, I thought it would be a little gesture of goodwill to dedicate this composition to World Peace. Dušan Bogdanović
Fantasia (Hommage à Maurice Ohana)
Since my student days I have had a strong affinity for Ohana’s work, certainly one of the most original voices of the twentieth century guitar music, I wanted to pay him tribute. I wrote this Fantasia in 2009 and I dedicated it to Zoran Dukić. It follows the venerable tradition of improvisatory spirit of the fantasia and the ricercar form. The piece is based on contrapuntal development through imitation and motivic transformation. Except for the final quote from Tiento, which shows up like a mirage from another world at the end of the piece, there are no literal citations of Ohana’s music in this composition, which is, however, entirely suffused with his spirit, a sort of a twin language of cante jondo, so typical for Ohana’s work. Balkan intense emotionality is used here as an underlying propulsive device, along with polymodality and complex rhythmic texture. Dušan Bogdanović Dušan Bogdanović
I was still studying at the Conservatoire de Paris when I wrote the Sonata, in 1996. Moreover, I played it at my final guitar examination. It was my first composition for solo guitar of such magnitude. The influence of Balkan music is present in this Sonata as in most of my pieces; the three movements are strongly united by the use of a modal language and by the presence of compound rhythms and of common thematic elements. In the second movement, the melody is treated in a polyphonic way. We find there, developed, the central part of the first movement. The same process is used in the third movement which borrows several elements stemming from the first one, in particular the percussion being of use as a conclusion to the piece. Atanas Ourkouzounov
Makedonsko devojče is one of the most popular songs from Macedonia. Its subject is the unmatched beauty of Macedonian women. Though it was written in 1964 by Jonče Hristovski, a noted songwriter, the song was elevated to the status of folk music. My composition “Macedonian Girl” is considerably removed from the much simpler and lighter original, but it does preserve its beautiful melodic line. It is in the 7/8 meter which is the most common meter in Macedonian music. Mirolav Tadić
Walk Dance is based on a traditional Macedonian dance called Kalajdžisko oro. The choreography of this dance is based on the movements that coppersmith and tins men used while making or repairing large metal dishes and vessels around the beginning of the 20th century.
This is in keeping with common tradition in East European folk dancing where movements from everyday activities – such as ploughing, planting, harvesting or practicing various kinds of crafts – are used as the basis for the choreography. There exist many regional versions of this dance, and I have used several well-known melodic phrases as the basis for my composition. Mirolav Tadić
I composed the sonata for solo guitar in 1981 and premiered it myself in 1984. Like many others, this composition went through several transformations, but the decisive moment was the collaboration with Zoran Dukic which brought it to its final form in 1999. The piece which follows the outline of the classical sonata is strongly influenced by the rhythmical, melodic and harmonic language of jazz and traditional Balkan music through a constant change of meter and shifting of accents. The first movement is in rather strict sonata form with two subjects; the first brisk and chromatic and the second loose and diatonic-modal. The second movement is a plaintive binary song built on two subjects, one a homophonic and mysterious chorale and the other a shepherd-like tune. The third movement originally had the subtitle Rondo alla Couperin, and it is a rondo with couplets, spiced with Balkan-like rhythms. That being said, I strongly believe that music should speak for itself, regardless of its possible complexity or simplicity, so I give it to the listeners with all the best of my heart. Vojislav Ivanović
Tri Igre (Boris Papandopulo)
The son of Greek nobleman Konstantin Papandopulo and Croatian opera singer Maja Strozzi-Pečić, Boris Papandopulo studied composition in Zagreb and conducting in Vienna. He soon became important in the Croatian musical landscape. He led the choruses Kolo in Zagreb and Zvonimir in Split. He was director of opera at the Croatian National Theatre, conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the Croatian Radio, and director of opera in Rijeka. Boris Papandopulo composed more than 440 works including, among others, operas, ballets, orchestra, concertos, chamber music, pieces for piano and three dances written for the guitar in 1975.
The Chase Dance (Apostolos Paraskevas)
The Chase Dance is a fast and rhythmical piece with a slow unmeasured introduction. Most of the tonal material comes from the Greek traditional repertoire. The frequent use of alternating 2/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8 and 9/8 meters along with the use of numerous accents contributes to the tension in the piece and increases the impression of a chase.