In his native Bulgaria, composer and pianist Pancho Vladigerov is considered a national treasure. A treasure, perhaps, that was a little too closely guarded until now. For some reason, it’s always been difficult to access Vladigerov’s music outside of his Bulgaria.
Thanks to Capriccio, the world will finally discover what it’s been missing. This release is the first of an 18-disc series of Vladigerov’s music, licensed and remastered from Bulgarian recordings made in the 1970s.
That’s fine with me. This is music that deserves to be heard. Vladigerov synthesized his native music with classical forms to create a unique musical style. In many ways, his music reminds me of Bohuslav Martinu, who did the same with Czech music.
But Vladigerov’s use of multi rhythms, modal harmonies, and Bulgarian folk melodies is unique. The piano concertos provide an excellent introduction to his style.
These are big, expansive works that superficially resemble Rachmaninov’s or Medtner’s concertos. Vladigerov was an exceptional pianist, and he gives full reign to his imagination in writing the solo parts.
These concertos are all performed with his son, Alexander Vladigerov conducting the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra. The younger Vladigerov knows his father’s music well, and his direction provides consistency across the performances. The orchestra does, too, but the recordings vary in quality.
The composer is the soloist for the final concerto, No. 5, written in 1963. His performance adds additional insight into the work, and Vladigerov’s aesthetic. Unfortunately, it’s also the concerto with the poorest recording. To my ears, it sounded too compressed with a lot of detail missing.
Nevertheless, the performance (indeed all the performances) are expressive and exciting. Bulgarian music lovers have long enjoyed Vladigerov’s music. It’s past time to share it with others.
Pancho Vladigerov: Piano Concertos 1-5
Teador Moussev, Ivan Drenikov, Krassimir Gatev, Pancho Vladigerov, piano
Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Vladigerov, conductor
3 CD Set