Bulgarian a Capella

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: JVC
PERFORMER: Philip Koutev National Folk Ensemble/Stefan Dragostinov
CATALOGUE NO: 5389-2

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While the mystery of Bulgarian voices has long turned to familiarity, the magic lingers on. The choir that caught everybody’s imagination is one among many. If you don’t get enough of the open, unvibrant tone, fine tuning and in-your-face expression, the Philip Koutev National Folk Ensemble will keep you enthralled, singing as one from the heart.

Koutev is the name of the predominant composer and a reminder of how firmly rooted the tradition is. ‘Folk’ applies to the material and character, but the songs use classical polyphony and diatonic harmony tinged with piquant clashes.

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Like choral music from a swath of south-eastern Europe, right across to Armenia, they make a genuine synthesis of art and popular lines that Western Europe has never quite matched – try listening to Holst after this. Result, hundreds of choirs whose vitality makes the English equivalent sound wishy-washy, its modern repertoire out of touch with common humanity.