various artists,
Music from Montenegro
(Caprice, 2005)

Montenegro is a country we don't hear much about in the States, except through an occasional movie. Like the Balkans in general, Montenegro has been invaded over the years by various ethnic groups and empires, all of which have left their marks.

As revealed in Music from Montenegro, the country's musical traditions derive from many sources. We get an idea of this almost immediately: the first track, "Oj, devoko, da sam te vidio," is a traditional song from the mountains, while the second, "Da mi se stvoriti pticom lastavicom," is much more reminiscent of choral singing from central Europe. The third selection, "Od kako je Kotor nastanuo," is a style of epic song popular throughout the Balkans and reveals strong influence from Islamic music, particularly of the Mediterranean shore.

If there can be such a thing, these three selections are typical of the disc as a whole: a wide-ranging survey of the various styles and forms of musical performance in a little-known part of the world.

Caprice's series of recordings of traditional music from around the world is a highly rewarding one for those interested in learning about other musical traditions -- as in this case, the notes are usually instructive, and the illustrations give a sense of the richness of these cultures. This is a welcome addition to the series, with some new insights on the musical traditions of the Balkans.

by Robert M. Tilendis
23 December 2006