O Slunovratu ("At Solstice") stands as one of Jirí Pavlica's most accomplished works. Reaching in the poetry of famed Czech author Jan Skácel, he directed the traditional Moravian ensemble Hradistan through a jubilant song cycle celebrating the arrival of spring. The words of Skácel, a man who was banned from public life by the Communist regime, cry for death-and-rebirth or renewal-oriented interpretations. For this recording, Hradistan was augmented by a few musicians (keyboardist/drummer Josef Fojta, guitarist Dusi Burmec, saxophonist Antonín Mühlhansl), lead vocalist Alice Holubova (Pavlica and Hradistan clarinetist David Burda also sing lead for a few songs), and a choir. The writing taps into Moravian folklore to create ageless songs. The instrumentation (which includes oboes, crum horn, and cimbalom) gives a medieval touch to the music, but, as a whole, traditions are integrated into a new, contemporary language -- world music in its most meliorative meaning. "Karneval" adds a festive (almost exuberant) Yiddish color to an otherwise moody album. The undisputed highlight is "Modlitba Za Vodu" ("A prayer for water") with its powerful, highly emotional chorus. The production is exquisite, making O Slunovratu a real masterpiece: profound, enduring, yet very easy to love. The album did very well in Eastern Europe, eventually earning Pavlica a gold record. It was reissued in 2002 with bonus material under the title Zlaty Slunovrat. Highly recommended to anyone with interests in East-European folklore and intelligent, tasteful world music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture