Stefan Dragostinov

Sonic Icons of Bulgaria - Volume 1: Prituri Se Planinata



1. Prituri Sa Planinata (4:32)   
2. Trendafil4eto (2:46)   
3. Pasha (4:13)   
4. Dqvolskoto Horo (6:39)   
5. Baba Luk Posqla (2:16)   
6. Veliko Pile Shareno (5:23)   
7. Sabrali Sa Se (2:57)
8. Pilentse Pee (2:01)
9. Stara Trakiiska Siuita (6:09)
10. Liubovna Prikazka (5:24)
11. 4i4ovite Kone (1:50)
12. Zazpali Se 4osta Gora (5:34)
13. Levo Oro (6:00)
14. Razliuliala Se Draganka (2:26)
15. Sonio Ti Moi Sonio (3:44)

Music: Stefan Dragostinov
Conductor: Stefan Dragostinov
Sound: Deyan Timnev, Ivailo Yanev, Roumyana Stoyanova
Realized by DRAGOSTIN FOLK NATIONAL, 2001, Bulgaria

The Bulgarian has never been notable for a deep feeling of religiousness, even less so for having been seized by some kind of fanaticism. Characteristic of him Is a feeling for the reality. The anonymous authors have in the folk stones and in the folk songs, as well as later on in the professional art, described their heroes as being a person, who talks with God and is at the same time having his feet firmly on the ground. His dialogue with leaven is full or respect and at the same time full of doubt: co-existing are the trust and the good-humoured banter. Not characteristic of him is also any kind of fetishism. It may most probably he for this reason that the images of the saints, painted in the Bulgarian churches, do very often not conform to the canons. Painted in the frescoes and on the icons are not images of super-beings, bur representations or human beings, offered to whom are prayers, hut expected from whom is a response as well. The church of Boyana (built in 1259) near Sofia is one of the examples of a breaking of the canon, having thus become a forerunner of the Renaissance:

A similar spirit of intimacy with the Creator there is also in Bulgaria's musical folklore. One would rarely find in it songs that are full of a. deep religiousness. Even when they are dedicated to the greatest of the church holidays, the. religious themes in them pass in the light of the every-day routine life or of the love-lyrics. This is true also of the songs, included in this album. Varied in their subject matter, they are an embodiment of the comprehensiveness of the conception of religion. In the Bulgarian folklore, the latter should be interpreted as a suffering for the neighbour, as a confidence in one's own strength and as a bright optimistic outlook on the world. The series of albums under the general title of  "Sonic Icons of Bulgaria" include songs from the country's different regions, sung by the golden Bulgarian voices in the company of virtuoso instrumentalists, to whom the world bows with respect. Like in the representations in the Bulgarian churches, embedded in the sonic portraits are subject matter and personages from the real world - they are so vivid and multidimensional, that they do away with the barriers which a deification would otherwise raise. It is for this reason that these icons are not frozen in their original form, in which they had been created hundreds of years ago. The folk genius has imbued them with a resilient little grain which makes it possible for them to remain alive and to he developed and recreated in a variety of versions. "My uncle's Horses", for example, is a song, the roots of which are in the so-called Shopplouk, a region near Sofia. It was in 1991 when I heard it sung by Snezhana Borisova, a self-styled woman-singer from the village of Lozen. I have, later on, added to this song's roots my own branchings of composer to the structure and to the accretion of the voices. Years later, other composers have also expressed their views on the same song. And this fact comes to prove once again the infinite possibilities which the folklore offers as an impulse. The possibility of cover-versions suggests that the folklore is a resistant matter. One can, like from a vein of gold, roll out of it a sheet and model it. Whether a new and unique jewel would come out of it, or just a production-line plaster figurine, depends on the modeller's skill. But the vein remains always a gold one. Similar is the lot also of the song "Prituri se Planinata" (Break Down Did the Mountain), which has had a variety of versions, including an electronic-sound one. It is precisely this openness of

the Bulgarian song to the world and, perhaps, to different eras as well, including those which are still to come, which suggests my own approach to it: the song is the icon, before which I do bow. It is at the same time a personification of that remote, gifted and anonymous creator, with whom I would not miss the opportunity to enter into a dialogue, to apostrophize him and even to argue with him. Included in this album are also the performances of women-singers and instrumentalists, who are willing to experience the same adventure like me. In the minds of their admirers they are a sui generis icons of personalities, who are handing down the tradition from the past to the present with their voices, with their virtuosity and, most of all, with their unique manner of performing. As a composer, I have the feeling of their sharing my views, at times even of their being co-composers. It was not by accident that Boyka Prisadova had, for her interpretation of my song "Dream, You My Dream", won the highest award at the 1986 International Radiofestival in Bratislava. The aureole, which the performers, included in these series, had been bearing through the years, had not allowed them to lose their mobility and their dynamism, had not broken their connec- tion with the authentic folklore and had not put an end to their willingness for entering into a dialogue with musicians of different generations, of different trends. The piper Nikola Ganchev (1919-2001), that master of the parallel nose-breathing, had, to his last gasp, remained curious about what the young generation is doing in the field of the folklore, uniting it with different genres. It is precisely for this reason that his musical dialogue with the universal virtuoso percussionist Stoyan Yankulov-Stundjy in "Devilish Ring-Dance" seems like being an exchange of challenges between equals.

Present in these series are the legends of the Bulgarian music, such as the famous Nadka Karadjova for example, as well as Maria Koleva, Elena Apostolova, Dimitrinka Karpouzova, Lyudmila Radkova, Krassimira Karabasheva, Roumyana Aleksova, Dimiter Todorov - all of them representatives of the new generation of performers, who are adding their vocal and instrumental embroidery to the original ones, taken out of the chests of their predecessors. The music, collected in this album, sets firmly particular moments of my work in the field of folklore in the course of decades. The songs are fixing episodes of my contacts with it through the years. Showing through them is also my aspect angle to the tradition, which has been changing with the years. et. like it is with the contact with the icons-masterpieces, however might change its standpoint, it never lets them out of sight. This inviolable contact is also my corrective as a composer of the music in this collection.

-Stefan Dragostinov

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