We love and sing songs from many different parts of Eastern Europe, as you will hear on this disc. But this CD draws a great deal from our experiences traveling in Bulgaria and studying with Bulgarian musicians closer to home.
One song that struck us particularly in Bulgaria was a men’s song, “Telegramma doide,” about the arrival of a wartime telegram. We like the way the word “telegramma” evokes a kind of border between tradition and modernity. These songs about former ways of life (with their telegrams, village wells, threshing barns and scythes) are like telegrams conveying the beauty and mystery of distant times and places.
And the motif of wind sweeps through several of the songs we’ve chosen. Sometimes the wind is an unnamed and friendly part of the scene, like the wind that fills the white sails of the boats on the Danube (“Dunave”). But at other times, from the wind that blows a hero’s hat off in a dream—an eerie way to inform him that he will lose his head (“Oy, to ne vecher”), to the cold wind blowing around a stable (“Betlehem, Betlehem”), to a broken-hearted girl asking the wind not to blow and rock her, because she wants to rock herself (“Ne dui mori vetre”), the wind suggests mysterious messages carried by nature and, through human interpretation, through song.
With Planina’s own exuberant vocals and instrumentals, and guest appearances by Petar Teodosijev (accordion), Milyo Kepchelev (tambura), James Hoskins (cello and gudulka), and Jesse Manno (bouzouki, oud), this is our Telegram on the Wind to you, the listener.