Confluences: Balkan Dances & Tango Nuevo / Carrettín, Gajic

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“After many years of performing these works in recitals, we wanted to record them—not as two separate sets but as a confluence of dance-inspired music...

“After many years of performing these works in recitals, we wanted to record them—not as two separate sets but as a confluence of dance-inspired music influenced by two distinct regions and cultures. We chose to travel back and forth between duo and solo, interweaving Balkan dances and tango nuevo in the way we have done in live performances.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues at the time we write these words, we’ve repeatedly found ourselves performing for audiences virtually, separated from one another by the computer screen and yet connected to one another by that same screen. In recording this album we sought to bring some of the live concert experience to the listener.

The track order, tempos, pacing between selections, the improvisatory nature of some of the phrasing, dynamics, articulations, and embellishments, were elements in our process that we felt could contribute to providing some of the live concert feeling that we’ve all been missing during periods of lockdown. This music is especially close to each of us: The tangos were composed for me (Zachary) to play, and like the sonatas of the Italian violinist-composers of the Baroque Era, these compositions provide an environment for exploration, an invitation to embrace improvisation as part of the process… The Balkan Dances are a musical reflection of the cultural influences in my (Mina’s) childhood, in what was then Yugoslavia. Certain rhythms, melodic fragments, and harmonic progressions conjure visceral memories from traveling throughout the rich cultural landscapes across the region, and of singing and dancing traditional songs in several dialects as a child and music student...” (Mina Gajić & Zachary Carrettin)


Who would have expected two directors of the Boulder Bach Festival to come up with such a novel composer pairing and (more importantly) to bring it off supremely well? Their program mixes and matches violin/piano tangos by Ray Granlund and the Seven Balkan Dances for piano solo by Marko Tajcevic.

One might describe Granlund’s approach to the tango genre as that of a kinder, gentler, and less edgy Astor Piazzolla. To be sure, Granlund can whip up energy when it suits him. Tango Peregrino, for example, starts off in lyrical territory that wouldn’t be foreign to a Chick Corea ballad, yet a strong rhythmic impetus soon kicks in, complete with emphatic accents and slashing slides from Zachary Carrettin’s violin. Granlund’s compact Tangometria defies conventional dancing in its deft use of mixed uneven meters, while Tango du joli printemps lovingly transports an original Poulenc melody from Paris to Buenos Aires, with a second overdubbed violin line joining in the dance.

Tajcevic’s brief Balkan Dances succinctly make their vivid musical points, helped by the gusto and verve characterizing Mina Gajic’s wonderful rhythmic élan. Despite the disc’s relative brief playing time (38 and a half minutes), adventurous listeners will not feel shortchanged.

-- (Jed Distler)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 22, 2022

  • UPC: 053479225627

  • Catalog Number: DSL-92256

  • Label: Sono Luminus

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century, Contemporary

  • Composer: Ray Granlund, Marko Tajčević

  • Performer: Zachary Carrettin, Mina Gajic