With each new work, guitarist Miro Tadić shows that he is an artist that relentlessly pushes boundaries and defies any expectations. His discography demonstrates a masterful versatility, as he fearlessly and seamlessly transcends both geographies and music genres, all on one recordfrom Bach to Balkan improvisations and folk songs, from Satie to free improv music. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that his latest release is yet another stylistic curveball.
Tadić has always implied his extensive knowledge and experiences from the classical world into everything he interprets without losing the feel of the original material. Not only that, actually he deepens the music he plays and as such his records including Spavati, Možda Sanjati (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream) have been idiosyncratic and highly personalized. But whatever methods and techniques he brings to his playing, they serve the music itself. The result is an art form that tugs at your ears and heart. Spavati is a perfect summary of the Tadić's impulses, techniques, and strengths. It's a collection of ballads, traditional songs and lullabies and this affair spans the spectrum of his influences from classical and flamenco to blues and Balkan folk music. Clearly, he is in command of a broad harmonic knowledge, but his approach towards these songs is all about subtleties, elegance, and understatement.
The opening track "Čitavu noć slavuj" is the first out of two renditions of songs written by the Croatian songwriter Arsen Dedic that can be found on this record. His work presents a great inspiration for Tadić as he has performed his songs previously whether on his previous output Mirina or on the duet with pianist Matija Dedic's homage. "Čitavu noć slavuj" serves more as a thematic and mood touchstone for what is to follow and the mood is beautifully contemplative as Tadić employs the full range of the acoustic instrument's possibilities in a stunning musical way. And he does that on the rest of the tracks. Listeners that are hungry for subtleties will find a feast here, played on classical guitar but in several styles and modes. All of the tracks are like a masterly resume of his idiosyncratic approach. Tadić has an orchestral approach on the guitar and with his amazing economy of his playing, he builds his compositions gradually and with great care. There aren't any sharp edges to mar his approach and he makes a positive use of both space and quietude.
In the past whenever he mined the Balkan music heritage he put a greater emphasis on Macedonian folk songs but recently he has been interpreting Croatian and Serbian folk songs. "Tiho Noći" is a mournful ballad popularized by one of the greatest singers from Vojvodina (Northern Serbia), Zvonko Bogdan and the lyrics are based on a poem written by J.J. Zmaj, who was one of the best-known Serbian poets from the XIX Century. The words denote a children lullaby, but over the years it has taken a form of a plaintive ballad and it seems that Tadić sobs and sighs on the fretboard thus giving that feel of someone that is staring the dark horizons.
Among these songs and ballads, there are wonderful interpretations of classics from other geographies such as "Duerme Negritto," which is a gentle interpretation of this well-known Latin American lullaby and he interprets another composition from that part of the world, "Volcanito Dormido" by an Argentinian composer, Santiago Vázquez. Another wonderful lullaby that joins this repertoire is "Nana" by the great Spanish composer Manuell De Falla. It is lyrical with Spanish-inflected playing. Tadić builds and builds, wave after wave of guitar, of perfectly restrained, beautifully realized, and utterly mesmerizing music.
In this age of speed, immediacy and short attention span, the act of listening to a solo guitar may seem alien to some but Spavati, Možda Sanjati is an emotionally and musically rewarding experience. Every detail about it points to an incredible musician, not just in his playing, but with his understanding of music and its emotive qualities.
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