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Date Added: Wednesday 05 October, 2016

by Vladimir Trajanovski

I discovered the "Krushevo" album 15 years ago, in Skopje. Taking a one day trip to the capital city with a few college colleagues, I wanted to visit one famous record store in the City Trade Center. Browsing through the CDs, there was one very visually specific sleeve that instantly attracted me. I had no previous knowledge about this project, but when I saw that Vlatko Stefanovski was involved, I decided to buy the album, although it was very expensive. The outlook, the design, packaging, the inner booklet, all was so specific. I noticed that it was a Japanese imprint, which was odd, having in mind that there were no previous Japanese CDs on the Macedonian market, nor since. When I played the disc, I was overwhelmed. That affection lasts to this day. To choose such specific ambient to record in, the interpolation of the two guitars, the feeling, the atmosphere of the recording, absolutely magnificent. This is one of my dearest CDs, it went in many hands, so many of my friends heard it, and learned about this collaboration. A true acoustic guitar masterpiece. Never before the traditional Macedonian music was covered in such a way, as in "Krushevo". It is so lyrical, so deep, almost meditating. I had to play it while I am writing this review. In the summer of 2002, Tadić and Stefanovski held a concert in the Antique Theater in my home town of Ohrid. I waited for them backstage, and got their autograph beside their photo inside the sleeve. That kind of makes my copy a collectors one. The album starts with the dynamic dance, called "Gajdarsko oro". The guitars chase each other. Each of the artists has a separate style. Stefanovski is a self-taught guitarist, and Tadić is a schooled one. Both posses extraordinary playing skills, which makes this recording so special. The second composition is one lyrical story, about a girl named Jana (Jane in English). The third song, which has a wonderful intro, is maybe the most famous of all, "Jovano, Jovanke", a love story, about a forbidden love. The feeling is so overwhelming, to hear the song played by two guitars, that are almost singing the lyrics, the way they carry the melody. They brought in some experimental solos, yet, not spoiling the original musical line. When this part culminates, it is crashed by the calm chords. The next composition is called "More čičo reši da me ženi", telling about a young man that is to be married, and his uncle finding him some ugly maiden. It is a comical folk song. I only recently read the lyrics. This instrumental version was more appealing to me. It is a fast song. A joyful one. Followed by a more down tempo one, called "Prošeta se Jovka kumanovka", a conversation between a Macedonian girl, Jovka (Joanne in English) and a Turkish man, Latif Aga, that asks to take her as a wife, but she rejects him, telling him that she has a loved one. The guitar arrangement is so unique, it takes the standard melody in such different direction. As if the listener is on that open field, where Jovka traveled. "Ni prela gora ni tkala" is the title of the next song, a calming melody, a lyrical song about the forest. So meditating. A slightly uptempo follows, with the "Dafino vino crveno", a song about a girl whose boyfriend is taken by bandits that exchanged him for alcohol. Yet again, the improvisations, the intersections, the high notes played by one, and the deep notes played by the other musician give such a vibrancy to this composition. The dynamic song that comes after, is called "Izlezi Vido", a comic song, about funny animals. The specific Macedonian rhythm is noticeable here. Wonderful execution. The ninth song is called "Ajde dali znaeš, pametiš Milice", dedicated to the vivid love story, as recalled by the young man that shared those moments with Milica (that is also the name of my wife). An instrumental journey. A delight. The finale is left to the lyrical song, yet with a positive story, dedicated to a young shepherd, that became a father. On this recording, it is interpreted in a specific way, as the guitars weep, or resonate while playing. A wonderful ending of the CD. Every time I play the disc, it feels like it ends too fast. I always expect more songs to come along. Maybe this is because the journey is so relaxing, so calming. I would like to thank M · A Recordings for making this special record, in such a way, and bringing together these two outstanding virtuoso. Great enjoyment, for the senses. Although I have a background on these compositions, this special arrangement was so new to me, so fresh, so appealing. That is why this album is so precious to me. I feel happy to have found it and purchased it. Or that it found me. This sparked a series of other recordings between Stefanovski and Tadić, other collaborations of these two artists and other ones. Although I find many of them to be so good, I stay fond of this one the most. After all these years, I registered here, hoping to share some of my emotions towards this issue. Krushevo is a small town, the highest one in the Republic of Macedonia, situated among mountain slopes. It was a center spot of an uprising, in the beginning of the XX century. Today, on the 2nd of August, we celebrate a national holiday, called the Ilinden Uprising day. The monument where the recording was made is called Makedonium, by the authors Jordan Grabuloski and Iskra Grabuloska. It is dedicated to all the fighters and revolutionaries who participated in the Ilinden uprising of 1903, as well as soldiers-partisans of the Macedonia National Liberation Struggle 1941-1944. This recording bares a strong symbolic, regarding all of these mentioned above. It represents the essence of Macedonian traditional music, told in a specific, modern way, and to me is the best ambassador of our country. This is one powerful recording. And it never grows old.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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