Saturday, August 10, 2013

Balkan Spirit



The fabulous Hesperion XXI offer Balkan Spirit.

Every year the village of Galicnik in Western Macedonia enables one of its children to celebrate a fully traditional wedding ceremony, stretching over three days, accompanied by the engaged eyes of many visitors, including one year myself.

I most remember the music that accompanied each step of the wedding. It was often mesmerising with tunes unfolding in repeated cycles that spun you out of thought, teasing you out of time. There is a quality about traditional music that suggests an intimate relationship not only with people but with place. Its rhythms are that of culture and nature.

I recall stepping out of the village, taking myself out of the throng, walking up one of the hills followed by the strains of receding music yet with it entering the landscape as if the music opened a door to it, the seeing of it, singing you into a place. I do not think I ever been more 'there' present enwrapped in a landscaping.

It was hauntingly strange until many years later, I was listening to the composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, on Desert Island Discs describe going for a walk in the Peak District as an adolescent on a mist swirled day and hearing all the music he was subsequently going to compose as if it were waiting for him both enfolded within and yet beyond 'the world'!

His great gift was to translate it, give it a forming (and famously he moved to the Orkney Islands to find a traditional landscape of silence in which better to hear that music). Mine felt like traveling in the opposite direction, led momentarily into its sourcing, to stand in the body of the world of which music is an integral part always waiting to be discovered.

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