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World Music CD Reviews Europe

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By NATHAN GILBERT
Published January 25, 2006

MUSIC FROM MACEDONIA 1
Caprice
MUSIC FROM MACEDONIA 2
Caprice

Macedonia is a small county, approximately the size of Vermont, nestled in the heart of the Balkans, with a population of about two million. Yet it has some of the richest music traditions in the world. Numerous ethnic groups including Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Greeks and Roma (Gypsies) have all contributed to the unique and diverse musical tradition of the country—especially the Turks, thanks to five centuries of Turkish domination in the Balkans. Caprice Records has assembled this two-disc set highlighting a number of the country’s best musicians. Many of the ensembles here—Xan Strájani, Synthesis, Kitka, Pece Atanasovki Stefche Stojkovski and the Ensemble of National Instruments—orchestrate their music with such traditional Macedonian instruments as the tapan, gajda, kaval and tambura, and are fronted by singers who’ve perfected the ornamented and nasal quality of Balkan singing. Orkestar Ace, a Roma wedding brass band, and Muzáfer Mahmud, a Roma zurla player, show off the varied Gypsy musical traditions in Macedonia. The instruments used by these musicians are found in a few other places in the world, and give this music a truly original sound, not always easily accessible to Western ears, but well worth experiencing.