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February 18, 2009

Bulgarian Voices [Angelite], Huun-Huur Tu & the Moscow Art Trio - Mountain Tale

This is a crazy cd. I don't thing I've ever heard anyone layer completely different songs (in different languages and styles, no less) on top of each other, and have it WORK. Really. This album is amazing. The harmonies, the tones, the sparseness of instrumentation, the impassioned shouts. Leave it to Slavs & Tuuvans! Definitely rewards repeated listening. I can't say anything that folks haven't already said, so read it for yourself, and moreover hear it for yourself.

´It is the strangeness that puts you in the ban, it is the strangeness of the voices, the sounds, the message. You don´t know the meaning of the words, but you listened and will be fascinated. ´ (Die Zeit 16.8.1996)

MISHA ALPERIN "There is something mystical about the number "3". That is probably why there are so many trios in the world of music. When I first produced the MOSCOW ART TRIO in 1990 I was thinking about 3 different roles in the ensemble as in theatre. Each member has his own world of expression but in the end everything comes together like a musical organism with spirit, body and mind. To make it even stronger I chose a concept with 3 musicians of 3 different backgrounds: classical, folk and jazz.

Almost the same idea of the magical number "3" applies with the Tuvan-Bulgarian-Russian project. Each culture has its own rich musical tradition: strong emotions and the spiritual beauty of the songs made me dream of combining them without any modernizations. Later in the development of the project I allowed myself to make more risky experiments by adding contemporary elements. I wrote some compositions, where you will not find traditional folk elements - they are written in the style of folk music of my subjective opinion - new Skomorohi.

Together with Sergey Starostin I wrote some scat - words without meaning - for this music, not in the jazz but in folk style. Then this became a Norwegian-Russian folk rap, an extra tune which we perform with a folk text and Nordic intonations sung by Bulgarians and Russians together. (Norwegian folk music was an additional strong inspiration for me when I wrote arrangements of compositions by the Norwegian Tetlef Kviftes.)

You will never find a border between day and night but we know the difference between both. In my experience this is the same with folk music: There are no borders between the different traditions and cultures but they exist in themselves and have their individual tones and colours."

In November of 1997 the project toured in America with at least 14 concerts. Nearly every concert was sold out. Even other artits felt appreciated to the project. In the concerts you found Ry Cooder, Micky Hartt, the whole Zappa family and Stevie Wonder.

The crossing of musical borders - both traditional and contemporary - is an essential aspect of this unique 28-musician experiment. Mikhail Alperin leads listeners on a journey of discovery through the similarities and differences of Russian, Bulgarian and Tuvan folklore, culminating in the fusion presented on this CD.

This is Misha Alperin's exploration of fusing Bulgarian folk/traditional music with Russian jazz improvisations & the Tuvan music of Huun-Huur-Tu. What otherwise *could* become a clash or cacophony of cultures, melds into a unity and harmony which is very enjoyable and natural. I have not heard the first CD, so have no basis of comparison. Angelite (The Bulgarian Voices, a female choir/chorus) starts out the first track, later a male Russian soloist sings a totally different song as a complementary counterpoint: beautiful, spiritual, transcendental!!! The qualities are enhanced by the combination of cultures. The second track, "Sunrise" is like a worship service: Angelite provides the harmonies, just like waves rushing up onto the shore, creating sculptures of sound. Track #3, "Early Morning with My Horse", starts out with the "clip - clop" of horse's hooves on a pavement, the sound for which the Tuvans are famous. It continues with their unique male vocals accompanied by ancient Mongolian instruments, combined with the harmonies of Angelite. Track #10 is the only disappointment. The liner notes explain the music is based on the composer's wife's experiences in Norway, hearing how the Norwegians called their cows. Well, it *could* be intriguing, if done with taste & creativity, since the Tuvans create masterful hoof beats with their instruments ... Instead, the outcome is ludicrous, adults "mooing", like kindergarten children! Please leave the cows in the pasture!! The composer is forgiven as it is *only* 1 track out of 10 which falls short of artistic merit. Obviously, he lost creative perspective (or had a deadline to meet). 90% of the CD is great! The ethereal voices of Angelite are without comparison! The Moscow Art Trio provides the modern instrumentation: piano, French horn, clarinet, and folk reeds. Huun-Huur-Tu provide the earthy rhythms, ancient instruments, and authentic vocalizations, such as "throat singing" from their Mongolian homeland ('Throat singing' has similarities to Buddhist chanting). If you are open to artistic exploration, try folk-jazz fusion, it is out-of-the-ordinairy and will lift your spirits.
- Erika Borsos

An Uncanny East-West Blend
Reviewed by SYD BAUMEL

"Music is the universal language," so the cliché goes. In Mountain Tale, East and West, folk and classical, come together to speak in tongues quite unlike any heard before.

You probably have heard the celebrated Bulgarian Voices (also known as Angelite): a glittering ladies choir that interprets their country's diverse Eastern and Western folk legacy with astonishingly bright and complex harmonies and rhythms. And you've probably heard the equally unforgettable Tuvan throat-singers (also known as Huun-Huur-Tu) of Mongolia, as masculine and guttural as the Voices are luminously feminine.

Who would have thought this yin-yang of celestial songbirds and enchanted frogs could blend so well? Mikhail Alperin, visionary leader of the classical/folk/jazz Moscow Art Trio, that's who.

The innovative Moscow Art Trio is the glue that holds together the record's fabulous 28-piece multicultural ensemble of singers and musicians (funky ethnic instruments, grand piano, flugelhorn. . .). Alperin has written or arranged all but one of the ten mostly traditional songs with "new music" sophistication, yet penetrating directness and purity. It's impossible to underestimate the contribution of the Trio's Sergey Starostin. On almost every track his bluesy, tenor wail—lyrics in Russian—bridges Bulgarian Heaven and Tuvan Earth with Slavic soul. You just have to hear this enchanted goulash to believe it.

Review by Alex Henderson
A highly ambitious and chance-taking project, Mountain Tale unites the Bulgarian Voices (a 24-member vocal choir from Bulgaria) with the Moscow Art Trio and the Tuvan ensemble Huun-Huur-Tu. The songs, which include "Sad Harvest" and "Dancing Voices," are traditional, but what the participants do with them is quite experimental. Elements of Bulgarian folk are combined with Russian and Tuvan folk as well as European classical music; occasionally, traces of jazz and Scandinavian folk can also be heard. The vocal harmonies that the Bulgarian Voices provide are simply amazing; one shouldn't even think about doing this type of singing unless he/she has serious chops -- members of the Voices obviously do. Mountain Tale is highly recommended to those who are seeking something fresh and adventurous from world music.

The Bulgarian Voices [Angelite], Huun-Huur Tu & the Moscow Art Trio -
Mountain Tale

Year: 1999
Label: Zebra

1. Midnight Tale
2. Sunrise
3. Early Morning With My Horse
4. New Skomorohi
5. Sad Harvest
6. Mountain Fairy-Tale
7. Dancing Voices
8. Grand Finale
9. Epiog
10. 300 Pushki

birds & beasts
mp3 192kbps | w/ (small) cover | 70mb

update: for more Moscow Art Trio albums (several o.o.p.) check out Funky Sodom. more bulgarian links in the comments


icastico said...


Anonymous said...

wow - thank you so much for posting this! i love huun-huur-tu and bulgarian voices, but had never heard of this collaboration- what a wonderful dream come true. i've only recently discovered your blog, and everything that i've heard has been a treasure. thank you again :)

Anonymous said...

Hi pirate -

Bumkuncha just posted another great, weird, eclectic bulgarian collaboration here:

Ray Lema - Professeur Stefanov Et Les Voix Bulgares De L'ensemble Pirin (1993)

waiting on that 'chants' comp -

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