Vassil Kazandjiev ‘Icônes Vivantes/Images de la Bulgarie’

'Icônes Vivantes/Images de la Bulgarie' front coverSide ASide BKazandjiev (left) and friend

Apothéose de la Crypte Saint Alexandre-Nevski, Sofia
[Living Icons – An eulogy to the Sofia Crypt]
01 Sancta Maria Odigitria (5:03)
02 Annunciatio (3:57)
03 Nativitas Domini Jesu Christi (5:02)
04 Crucifixio Christi (4:08)
05 Transfiguratio (2:46)
06 Judicium Ultimum (3:38)
07 Christus Pantocrator (6:15)

[Pictures of Bulgaria]
08 Le Monastère de Rila [The Rila Monastery] (4:21)
09 La Ville de Veliko Pirnovo [The City of Veliko Pirnovo] (2:38)
10 Cornemuses [Bagpipes] (1:38)
11 Casse-langue [Tongue-twister] (0:00)
12 Chant villageois [Folk song] (1:50)
13 Danse des Koukers [Koukers’ dance] (2:16)

The Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble
Vassil Kazandjiev, conductor

Total time 48:10
LP released by Harmonia Mundi, France, ca. mid-1980s

Vassil Kazandjiev (b. 1934) has been a key figure on Bulgaria’s music scene since the early 1960s, first as the founder of the Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble in 1962, then as conductor of the National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and, since 1984, as a pedagogue teaching conducting at the State Academy of Music. This disc is apparently the French reissue of a Balkanton LP (# BCA 1424), titled Zhivite Ikoni (Living Icons), released 1971 in Bulgaria. The 2 works presented here showcase Kazandjiev’s extraordinary skills at tone colors and ability to get striking sonorities from soloists and small ensemble alike, i.e. skillful members of the Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble. This is program music – each piece describes what the music is about. Composed 1970, Living Icons is based on several episodes of the Gospels, possibly from artworks or icons located in the crypt of the Bulgarian Orthodox, Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia. It is probably no coincidence if some of the music in Living Icons is reminiscent of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky film score, though Kazandjiev also draws from various 20th century music composers like Bartok or Penderecki, not unlike an Einojuhani Rautavaara today, for instance. On #3 Nativitas . . ., cow bells, wooden sticks, celesta and trumpet are used  to conjure supernatural sound effects surrounding the birth of Christ. Elsewhere, mystical, birdlike pizzicati from solo or ensemble strings create the appropriate atmosphere for the Biblical events described in Living Icons. Various historical and folk traditions were the inspiration for Pictures of Bulgaria, composed 1970 as well. Here again, Kazandjiev avoids mere postcard illustration to actually evoke the essence of places, traditional instruments and dances, through creative instrumentation and clever use of sound effects from instrumentists.

Download [new link as of March 2011]

5 Responses to “Vassil Kazandjiev ‘Icônes Vivantes/Images de la Bulgarie’”

  1. 1 Josefo malatrova December 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    gracias , lo escuchare y te dare mi opinion

  2. 2 continuo December 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    You’re welcome, Josefo.

  3. 3 veryan March 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Dear Reader,

    I have just by accident discovered this guy – Vassil Kazandjiev – and really like his own compositions. Unfortunately, I cannot download the music from your page because of some kind of security issue….or perhaps copywrite law changes have made things more difficult…who knows?….but might there be any way I could have a recording of this music from you?

    I also notice Roger Turner below the in fo about Vassil Kazandjiev ….I work with him, and will be in Chemnitz with him next month!

    best for now

    Veryan (Weston)

  4. 4 veryan March 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Dear reader again

    have successfully managed to upload….sorry to possibly confuse you!



  5. 5 continuo March 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Nevermind. I actually re-upped the files to another server as I couldn’t download it either with the previous link. Thanks for your interest.
    May I also recommend Vyacheslav Artyomow’s music?

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