Folk Dance Ensemble Vila

Music of Serbia

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At times highly klezmer-like, this album of Serbian music from the Novi Sad's resident folk ensemble runs the gamut from ultra-high-energy flutes and violins to female martial chants that seem to be straight from the communist era. Each piece hails from a different region of Serbia, both old (now largely Montenegro and in some cases Bulgaria) and new. The vocal pieces can be a bit grating (lying somewhere between the ethereality of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares and a tragic sea shanty), but the interplay of piccolo and violin at ultra-high tempos is something to marvel at. The sheer speed of performance here demands attention -- this is not something that can be played as background music on a lazy day. With notes, motives, and whole melodic lines flying at breakneck speed, though, it's the slow pieces that really grab the attention, jolting the listener to a halt. Newcoming listeners should start out with something gentler perhaps, like the high-tempo work of someone like Saban Bajramovic ("the Gypsy king"), but this one may be worth a shot for a Balkan music lover who finds moshing a little too relaxed.

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