AMN Reviews: Dobrinka Tabakova – String Paths (ECM New Series)

Dobrinka Tabakova was born in 1980 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria but has has lived in the UK since 1991. This is her first collection of recordings, music of sinew, mostly violin trios. Its String Paths cross fluid minimalism and motley folk, heavenly evidence of which the opening “Insight” amply provides. Not so much Arvo Pärt-like holy drones as swoops by angels with dirty faces. The “Concerto for Cello and Strings”, featuring the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, opens with a dexterous explosion of joy by soloist Kristina Blaumane. “Frozen River Flows” brings accordionist Raimondas Sviackevičius together with violin and double bass, an accordion that signals back to folk roots while also performing as a perfectly modern-day drone machine.

“Suite in Old Style”, with its harpsichord and many changes of tempo and mood – sweaty, stately, and primped and powdered – comes off like a sampler, an update on both Bach´s counterpoint and Bartók´s central European peasant dances. The finale, “Such Different Paths”, is sublime, deeply moving, lithe. Tabakova´s art is the great emotion she brings to conveying communitarian understanding – however painstakingly composed, these paths fork simultaneously toward both the heart and the head.
Stephen Fruitman