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Hristo Vitchev and Liubomir Krastev: Rhodopa

Dan Bilawsky By

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Track review of "Lale Li Si, Zyumbiul Li Si (Are you a Tulip, Are you a Hyacinth)"

The duo format is nothing new for Hristo Vitchev, but his prior work in this arena focused exclusively on his playing relationship with pianist Weber Iago. In fact, all four of the Bay Area-based guitarist's prior albums—whether duo, quartet or quintet—featured Iago in the lineup; but everybody knows that nothing is forever. With the release of the first single from his forthcoming Rhodopa (First Orbit, 2013), Vitchev has set off the signal flare to announce the cultivation of a new musical partnership.

Vitchev and clarinetist Liubomir Krastev, who share Bulgarian roots and a fondness for warmth, light and introspection, are well suited for one another. On "Lale Li Si, Zyumbiul Li Si (Are You A Tulip, Are You A Hyacinth)," they embark on a soul-cleansing journey that takes them from a peaceful, contented point of departure to a mournful atmosphere with an Eastern European influence. They spend the rest of the ten-and a-half minute performance straddling this sad-eyed place and a joyous section of musical terra firma that features a more playful Krastev.

If this teaser for Rhodopa is any indication, it would seem that Vitchev has found another kindred spirit who's capable of shading music with as much emotional depth as Iago. It's too bad that we'll all have to wait awhile to hear how the rest of Rhodopa plays out.

Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Liubomir Krastev: clarinet.

Title: Rhodopa | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: First Orbit Sounds

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