Simon Trpčeski - Makedonissimo - Fanfare

The fine young pianist Simon Trpčeski is proud of his Macedonian heritage, and here takes a break from Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev to gather with a group of four other musicians to kick it up with a program of Macedonian folk music. The amusing label for this outing is Makedonissimo, a linguistic mash-up that can be loosely translated as “very Macedonian.” I am not qualified to comment on the degree of Macedonianism that we get here, but this is a highly entertaining and wonderfully performed presentation regardless of any question of authenticity. The project, which has been presented to live audiences since its 2017 premiere in Germany, is the result of a collaboration between Trpčeski and Macedonian composer Pande Shahov, in consultation with the Marko Cepenkov Institute of Folklore.

The music here is an enticing mix of jazzy high energy and plaintive lyricism. Although the music here is essentially folk derived, Shadov borrows the modern idiom of a driving drum kit, delivered with subtle yet insistently propulsive energy by Vlatko Nushev. Certainly, the complex rhythms of the source material lend themselves to contemporary treatments, just as was the case for Kodály in Hungary and Grieg in Norway, to name just two of many other instances of the sort. The recorded length of nearly one and a half hours is extremely generous, but I was still sorry when this infectiously joyful music came to an end (which is why I ended up rehearing it many times—the highest accolade a critic can give). Don’t miss this. It will brighten your world at a time that urgently needs such a salve.

22 January 2021