Dilmana, Dilbera. Kalimanka, Denka. Give me, oh God the wings of a Swan. A little lamb was bleating. Fair Tudora is dozing. Rufinka lies ill. Melody. The Sun is shining. I'm so angry, mother. The Flowergirl. Vocalize. Mama was telling Rada. Momchil's young wife. Tell me, little white cloud.
Vesselina Kasarova mez
Sofia Soloists' Chamber Orchestra/Tsanko Delibozov
ape, cue, log, complete scans
"Odd Operatic moments aside, Kasarova and choir are in thrilling, full-blooded voice
There was something of a craze for traditional Bulgarian vocal music in the late 1980s, sparked by the release of Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares. The vibrant, nasal tone of the Bulgarian choir singing rhythmically intricate music in close harmony does seem at once earthy and unearthly, it’s an unforgettable sound. There’s some of this mesmerising, energising kind of singing here, from the Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria. (Ah, how times have changed in the former communist bloc, at least as far as naming ensembles goes.) And the juxtaposition of Kasarova’s darkly tinted mezzo with the fierce brightness of the choir creates a thrilling timbral counterpoint at times.
At other times, though, the refinement of Kasarova’s voice seems to create an odd friction, not only with the choral tone but with the music’s character. She begins the jaunty first song, Dilmana, Dilbera, with disarming simplicity, for instance, and the entrance of the choir singing the same melody in a different key provides an unexpected yet enjoyable jolt. At the song’s end, however, Kasarova switches into operatic mode, and suddenly she seems out of place, like a woman in an evening gown at a sporting event.
The songs with string accompaniment are the most effective, perhaps (though almost certainly less authentic), as Kasarova seems particularly inspired by the orchestra’s sinewy tone. In these selections, she lets loose with full-throated fervour, and the result, in a song like Kalimanka, Denka or Melody, is ravishing. She also sings with glorious intensity in the songs with piano accompaniment, though the arrangements soften the music’s rugged contours and dilute its character.
Whether this recording can be said to genuinely represent the Bulgarian Soul is open to question; there’s no doubt, however, that Kasarova has put her heart and soul into it."