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CD REVIEW: Composer, Roumi Petrova – Enchanted Rhythms (Cello Music from Bulgaria) featuring Kalin I
By Francesco Emmanuel - 04/17/2007 - 01:06 PM EDT

Artist: Composer
Album: Roumi Petrova - Enchanted Rhythms (Cello Music from Bulgaria) featuring Kalin Ivanov and Elena Antimova
CD Review: I am once again delighted to be reviewing music from masters Roumi Petrova and Kalin Ivanov. ‘Enchanted Rhythms’ is another collaborative album between long-standing musical companions Petrova and Ivanov. It is rich in classical and cultural significance. For this record all music was written by Roumi Petrova, and performed by Kalin Ivanov on cello and Elena Anitmova on piano.

All three musicians are highly trained and well-studied in the classics, and they are all natives of Bulgaria. Throughout this album, classical theory flirts and mingles with Bulgarian folk music. The result is another critical accomplishment for these musicians; the result is ‘Enchanted Rhythms’

‘Andante’ starts off the first piece ‘Passacaglia on a traditional Bulgarian melody for Violoncello and Piano’ – it is soft and filled with melancholy, holding a particular phrasing pattern, this continues until ‘Allegro’, for this part the pace quickens and piano takes the lead, but gradually returns to long notes with accented pauses just in time for ‘Adagio’, the cello is in control here, but soon enough, piano takes the lead for the last part – ‘Allegro maestoso’.

‘Sonata No. 1 for Violoncello’ and Piano begins with ‘Journey’, where the piano and violoncello trade melody lines and accents, filtering over each other with utmost perfection and finesse. The melody lines begin to be played in staccato fashion until the crescendo, and then as quickly as it began, the mood changes – smoother lines, longer pauses, the cello takes the lead intermingled with the piano. The last 25 seconds of journey is emphasized by short ‘stabbing’ notes on the cello accompanied by piano.
‘In memory of Hristo Ivanov’ is the second part of this Sonata and is a dedication to Kalin’s father who passed away, it is somber with piano playing a haunting melody and the cello holding the lower register, and in its own way, declares the finite destination of everyone’s lifetime.
‘Rondo’ uses unusual notes in a pattern that I’m not familiar with, it stands out, catching one’s attention. There seems to be a theme of urgency in the notes and method of playing here. An unspoken tension, sometimes changing direction and mood, but the underlying dissonance is still there.

‘Sonata No. 2 in G Minor for Violoncello and Piano’ commences with ‘Labyrinth’, with strong hints of eastern melodies and scales, long trailing lines by cello, stressed by short notes on piano. At one point, there’s musical interplay with each instrument answering one another’s lines. There’s a spiraling maze of notes that subsides now and then, almost as if letting some breathing space in, and then the game is on again, great variations in execution and attack. ‘Lullaby’ sways on, almost as a counter-argument to ‘Labyrinth’, smooth, steady notes, played softly. ‘Table Dance’ has a most interesting rhythmic pattern, and what I am amazed at, is how yet again, these musical masters can keep perfect time without use of a metronome or any other timing device.

‘Five Ancient Bulgarian Portraits for Solo Violoncello’ is the final piece on this record, and adds final credence to just what a great musician Kalin Ivanov is, his playing seems almost effortless. The Violoncello sets the pace and the mood throughout the five parts - ‘Three Maidens’, ‘Women at harvest’ and ‘Monk and his servant’ are mellow pieces which are contrasted against ‘Gypsy man with dancing bear’ and ‘Rebeck Player’. The variation in approach in ‘Rebeck Player’ truly stands out, the staccato attack on one line and the legato feel of the accompanying phrase directly after, brought home the simple fact that this is a very accomplished musician in his prime.

Bulgarian-born composer Roumi Petrova, critically acclaimed as ‘The Bulgarian Mozart’, is a cosmopolitan artist with years of study and work in Europe, Africa and America. She is a member of the Forte String Quartet and among her foremost works are Symphonic Overture ‘Prayer for rain’, concerto for violoncello and piano, Poem for Violin and String Orchestra, five String Quartets, Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet, two Piano Trios and two Sonatas for Violoncello and Piano.

Elena Antimova began playing piano at the age of four, and gave her first solo recital at six. She was the special prize winner at the First National Piano competition for Contemporary American Music in her native Bulgaria. She has given performances at Weill Hall, Klavierhaus, National Arts Club and Cami Hall. Elena is currently studying piano at Brooklyn College under Michael Rogers. She won the Conservatory Concerto Competition in February 2005 and the prestigious Sam Levenson award in April 2005.

Cellist Kalin Ivanov, recognized as ‘one of the most celebrated cellists of his generation’, is a soloist, chamber musician and recording artist. He is a native of Bulgaria and began studying with his father Hristo at age six. Mr. Ivanov holds degrees from Academy of Music and Dance Art, and State Academy of Music, Bulgaria and also from Brooklyn College Conservatory. He has led master classes and has judged at international competitions in the United States and Europe. Mr. Ivanov is a founding member of the Forte String Quartet, Trio BG and Bulgarian Piano Quartet. He is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award and Cultural Achievement Award for teaching and performing in the US.

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