AT LEAST WAVE YOUR HANDKERCHIEF AT ME
Can there be a gentler of expression longing than the title of this album, whether it expresses aching separation or forbidden love? In fact gentleness is a hallmark of an album that carries the subtitle The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song. Saz’iso is an octet containing five singers (three of whom share lead duties), despite which many of the richest jewels are to be found among the instrumentals. Aurel Quijo’s violin on Kaba me violine has a sumptuous timbre more like a viola, and it combines with Telando Feto’s clarinet in extravagantly swooping glissandi – another characteristic of an idiom that, unsurprisingly, carries overlaps with the music of Greece.
Further accompaniment is provided by lute, flute and frame-drum. The most striking singing comes on a lament called Nenocke, the voices of Donika Pecallari and Adrianna Thanou weaving a veil of tears over Agron Murat’s lute. If your soul is bleeding this is the perfect soundtrack. They do joy almost as well, however, with the same slightly muted quality that suggests stoicism is deeply embedded in the psyche.