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The Rusalka Cycle: Songs Between the Worlds

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Album Review

This collaboration between the American female choir and Ukrainian composer Mariana Sadovska builds from a base of folk texts and melodies into quite a stunning original work. There's a strong element of tradition to it, based on the story of the Rusalki, the spirits of dead women who live in the waters, forest and fields, and who bring fertility to the crops each spring. But it's far from being a folk piece. The original tunes Sadovska brings, along with the arrangements, make it soar. Kitka, who've proved their worth before, take their cue from Eastern European music, fitting perfectly into this as they are able to perform the subtle vocal gymnastics necessary to bring all this to life. In spite of the myth of regeneration and fertility, there's an overwhelming sadness to much of it, in the aching sweep of voices and eerie harmonies. This music, intended for a stage production, works alone, but is more effective when heard as an extended piece shifting through moods rather than as individual tracks. In spite of the melancholy, there's real beauty and invention in it all, to match the spirits of all those dead women.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Kitka, which means bouquet in both Bulgarian and Macedonian, are a leading U.S. women's vocal ensemble specializing in music from Eastern Europe. Kitka began in the Bay Area in 1979 as a group of women coming together simply to sing music they loved from behind the Iron Curtain. That changed after 1981, when Bon Singer became director and the group eventually became professional, recording and touring more extensively. Since 1997 Kitka have been co-directed by Shira Cion, Juliana Graffagna, and Janet...
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The Rusalka Cycle: Songs Between the Worlds, Kitka
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