Simon Trpčeski - Makedonissimo - Songlines

Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski has made a name for himself through bravura solo readings of Rachmaninov and Chopin, but appears here as a member of a group of equals, all virtuoso Macedonian musicians from the world of Western art music, revisiting and remaking the rich fund of Macedonian dance melodies, plus a few songs. Although Trpčeski was the main force behind the project, the most prominent voice here is that of composer and arranger Pande Shahov, whose work lies within the tradition of easier composers which as Tajčević and Mokranjac, yet with a distinctive contemporary sound.

He has chosen to group the tunes into a suite of short medleys, each focusing on a single one of the music's complex time signatures. In general the melodies are played straight, and move through a series of inventive modal backdrops, often with on instrument (piano, violin, cello, clarinet) leading and the others frantically scurrying away behind it, backed by sensitive percussion. The compositions are most powerful when working against the grain of the song, as in a remarkable version of 'Maleševka', in which the tune is first reduced to a skeleton and played at an extremely slow tempo, unveiling the melancholy that hides at the heart of Macedonia's musical heritage.

01 October 2020