Istrian Rhapsody

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The folk music of the Croatian peninsula of Istria is as characteristic as it is extraordinary. Its melodies, harmonies and rhythms are unique, and sonorously expressed by the sopila - a traditional shawm instrument - as well as through choral singing and folk dances. The music with its asymmetrical rhythms is based on the so-called 'pentatonic Istrian scale', which consists of major and minor seconds and is thus clearly different from the other musical styles of Croatia. Numerous non-Istrian musicians and composers have been fascinated by it - among them the Croatian composer Natko Devcic, with his 'Istrian Suite' for orchestra (1946), or the young Croatian pianist and composer Dejan Lazic with his 'Concerto in Istrian Style for Piano and Orchestra' op. 18 (2014/2021) or his 'Alterations on the Istrian Folk Hymn' op. 29 (2022).

Natko Devcic was one of Croatia's most important composers and music educators, leaving a lasting impression on subsequent generations of musicians. His most lasting success as a composer came with his 'Istrian Suite' for orchestra from 1946, which uses Istrian folk music as a source of inspiration and as a link between Slavic late Romanticism and the avant-garde.

Dejan Lazic’s five-movement 'Concerto in Istrian Style for Piano and Orchestra' op. 18 is closely connected to Istrian music, with its melodies, harmonies and rhythms, and features the 'Istrian scale' as well as the typical melodies played in thirds. The central movement of the concerto is an extended cadenza in which Lazic – who has already composed cadenzas for piano concertos by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and also arranged Brahms' Violin Concerto op. 77 for piano and orchestra – demonstrates his diverse experience in this field.

Lazic's 'Alterations on the Istrian Folk Hymn' op. 29 were written for the present CD and are dedicated to the Munich Radio Orchestra and its principal conductor Ivan Repusic. The song 'Draga nam je zemlja', composed by Ivan Matetic Ronjgov, was and continues to be sung as a folk hymn in Istria, and in his work Lazic has taken its melody as the basis for a theme and twelve variations with coda for orchestra.
Catalogue number 900332
Barcode 4035719003321
Release date 16/06/2023
Label BR Klassik
Format CD
Number of discs 1
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