This is one of the essential summer sounds of the year.
Michael Quinn 2008-06-26
Clarinettist Ivo Papasov's return to the world stage after a lengthy absence in 2004 deservedly won him the Audience Award at the BBC World Music Awards the following year.
Hailing from Kardzali on the Bulgarian side of the Turkish border, Papasov is of Roma (gypsy) origin and grew up under Soviet occupation during which he was largely confined to playing at weddings. He was soon earning the deserved applause of many and the underserved attention of a few. In 1982 he was arrested and sentenced to a term in a labour camp for championing un-Soviet music, a sentence happily overturned. By the decade's end British audiences were being introduced to his free-spirited virtuosity with a two-album spell on Hannibal Records.
Today, Papasov has an international profile, his dazzling technique the high point of festivals around the globe, having claimed the main stage at WOMAD in England in 2006.
Dance of the Falcon is a long-treasured project for Papasov, a collection of pieces each with a particular memory attached to it. Those memories range from the nostalgic hymnal of Hubava si moya Goro (Beautiful Forest) to the haunting, jazz-tinged romance of Sunrise, and even the delightfully bizarre, courtesy of a cover of The Pink Panther theme spliced through with oriental rhythms.
Papasov is a whirlwind of a musician, a technical virtuoso out of whom spills a phenomenal approach to the clarinet, one that bubbles and boils away with volcano-like energy and heat. It might be stretching things to say you'll find references here to most middle- and eastern European music traditions, but not by very much.
You don't have to be about to get married to listen to Papasov's intoxicating collection of wedding songs, but do clear a space on the nearest available floor and be prepared to get up and dance. This is one of the essential summer sounds of the year.