SEDJANKI - songs around the fireplace
Music from the Balkans and the Near-East
Auto-production, 2006

The Balkans and the surrounding lands represent for us an area of notable musical interest. The stimuli coming from the peoples who inhabit these lands are various, but what most fascinates us is the role of osmosis between east and west which these cultures have developed throughout history. For this reason they are not treated as mere conduits lacking their own identity but as a cohesion of diverse cultural fabrics. It is clear how much remains of the great stock of Turkish music in the Balkans and in the bordering zone Areas in which ancient canons set free the communicative energy of this music. As in the most vital popular cultures, our work doesn’t follow a fixed path to “embalm” traditions but proposes an original and creative rereading of them.

1. Shareno horo
trad. bulgarian
2. Zapejali mamo

trad. bulgarian
3. Ayrilik

trad. azeri
4. Buka ere

trad. albanese
5. Lazarsko horo

trad. bulgarian
6. Limon ektim

trad. turkish
7. Antice

trad. macedonian
8. Mome stoje

trad. macedonian
9. Chetvorno horo

trad. bulgarian
10. Bingöl

trad. armenian

"Zapejali mamo"
full download (mp3 2,9 MB)
Catia Gianessi
voice, tamburello
Gabriele Bonvicini
hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, voice
Massimo La Zazzera
bouzouki, bansuri, sansula, cimbali, voice
Igor Niego
bulgarian bagpipe, kaval, clarinet, darbouka
Walter Rizzo
kaval, shawm, musette
Roberto Romagnoli
tapan, def, duff

Peter Rabanser
oud, duduk, voice
Renzo Ruggiero
santur, nyckelharpa


Review of “Sedjanki- songs around the fire”

from "Folk Bulletin", 2006

With this third work which collects both unedited tracks and those making up part of the group’s live repertoire, Musica Officinalis pays homage to the land which perhaps more then any other has until now musically inspired their artistic path, the Southern Balkan peninsula and Turkey.

The ensemble from Faenza once again give us a production, careful in its choice of sounds and in the search for their equilibrium, a characteristic which is also typical of their displays during which they knowingly merge Balkan rhythms and melodies with ancient western music.
But this “Sedjanki” is something more, it is a voyage across lands which although geographically close  to us are culturally distant, a meeting with peoples who despite the martyrdom of history have known how to jealously conserve an extraordinary heritage. Musica Officinalis takes on this heritage, which obviously genetically does not belong to them, without showing any dread reverence toward “native” Balkan groups, displaying rather a surprising knowledge both of the repertoire and of technical skill with arrangements, revealing a detailed instrumental arsenal to use in their various performances.

The nucleus of “Sedjanki” is the rich repertoires of Macedonia and Bulgaria: beginning with an enthralling Macedonia dance “Horo” and a beautiful Bulgarian song “Zapejali mamo” interpreted by Catia Gianessi, a magnificent voice perfectly at ease in both in the field of pure folklore and in the medieval, and then away to Turkey with the haunting “Limon Ektim” a song which describes the waiting for a love, and again to Macedonia with “Mome stoje”, a splendidly executed “a cappella” and then once again to Albania and finally to the distant Bingol (…. I am an emigrant, a stranger in these countries, tell me sister, which are the roads for Bingol?....) an east Anatolian city, the true gateway to the Asiatic Iranian plains concluding this musical adventure which we hope will be listened to and appreciated by the major part of music lovers, in the fullest meaning of the term.

From, 2005

The latest voyage of Musica Officinalis takes us from Faenza all the way  to Bingol, in Kurdistan, passing through Bari, Sofia, Istanbul and then by and by through Ankara and Bunyan in a “journey” entering the places and culture of Eastern Europe. This type of project is nothing new to the group which has previously leant towards ancient traditions such as the medieval music tackled in Amorei (2004).
“Sedjanki” is an even more interesting work because it aims at an osmosis of east and west, which today though more difficult than ever, continues to be realised through these songs.

Musica Officinalis rearrange, vary and unite more melodic phrases, exhalting vocal and instrumental characteristics: through their competence they manage to combine Bulgarian beats, with Albanian dances, Azerbaijani themes with Pirin movements, Turkish love songs with Macedonian polyphony. Everything unravels in a linear way as though this music could never have been stopped from reaching us in a unified migratory flow, enriched along each step of the way, now taken up by Musica Officinalis.
The brains and brawn behind the project are as always Gabriele Bonvicini (hurdy-gurdy, nickelharpa) and Massimo La Zazzera (bouzouki, bansuri, sansula, cimbali) and voice of Catia Gianessi.
All of the ensemble bring forth a project which expresses as much through the strings as it does through percussion and through the different languages adopted in the songs. The disc spins with exuberance, more joyfully than previous releases, from the disparate beats of the opening “Shareno  horo”: the dances peak with the devilish Albanian traditional  “Buka ere”, but each track is pervaded with  instrumental and vocal overlays. Whether performing in the syncretizised religious style “Lazarsko horo” or an Anatolian Turkish love song, Musica Officinalis play with the same heartbreaking respect, that which allows them to captivate with the magical polyphony of “Mome stoje” the best track on the disc, played out in the voices of Bonvicini La Zazzera and Gianessi.

In the end we arrive in the place founded by Alexander the great, then conquered by Romans, Arabs, Persians and Turks: through instruments, voices and hand clapping “Bingol” communicates the true unison and plurality that are the aim of Musica Officinalis.

From, 2006

“They sang, mother, two nightingales, we are not us, mother, but we are a boy and a girl, since we sang together, we are in love”.
Thus begins the latest voyage of Musica Officinalis, after their extraordinary “Amorei, d’Amore e di Passione”, and these words, like the first two tracks are traditional Bulgarian in the Coptic rhythm.
A voyage departing Faenza, stretching towards Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey, ending in Bingol, founded by Alexander the Great, where the water of life is found. Starting at the end, Bingol becomes the track which sends the listener on a voyage to the east.
And it is just this which they perceive: fresh water and the sensation of having arrived on the threshold of a door which opens on the east. The subclause of the traditional Balkan and neighbouring folk melodies is reinterpreted by Musica Officinalis in an original manner.
In each track one hears that the voyage is not removed but starts from afar, coming closer to a musical multiculturalism where for example, an Albanian dance is accompanied by hurdy-gurdy and the full voice of Catia Gianessi takes us inside the medieval melodies of “Amorei”.
A mix then, of diverse traditions sonorities and cultures, a difficult choice and therefore a blossom on this impeccable cd.

Chrsthian Scorrano