Selected chamber music works

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THE TEXTs ABOUT BORIS KOVAČ AND THE INTERVIEWs WITH HIM

Multistylism could be a rough term used to determine Boris KOVAC’s composition profile, which is not suited to fill any conventional pigeonholes. His music reflects a thorough knowledge of the European chamber music tradition; on the one hand it could (conditionally) be categorized among lyrical sentiments of traditional sound worlds (not only of Pannonian ethnic music but also of a “planetary human spirit”) and sacred ritual sound festivities, and, on the other hand, it adopted some experiences of jazz, avant-garde rock and improvised music. Among the younger generation composers that we have had the opportunity to hear in the last several years there are indeed very few who have introduced so much freshness into contemporary music as Boris KOVAČ has done.
Rajko Muršič, “Muska”, 1995 / Slovenia

“…Kovač’s artistry can be described as “a vertiginous mix of recycled and transformed codes, characters and conventions”… belonging to a category outside the diverse artistic classifications. In speaking about his music, Boris Kovač refers to an interweaving of different genres and styles of music and assorted media, often incorporating controversial, paradoxical and ambiguous references. One can certainly detect the “yielding” and “fluid” boundaries that fuse the author’s composing and his performing activities.
But ultimately Kovač finds his expression beyond all styles and genres, beyond the boundaries of any specific time, geography or ethnicity, eschewing any form of hierarchy…”
Milica Doroški
excerpt from the encyclopaedia “European Contexts of Art in the Twentieth Century in Vojvodina”

…Kovač is not one of those…He is the one. In any of his musical incarnations…he actually was and remains one of the most interesting European composers of our time…
Starik Kozlodoev, Magazine Stereo & Video №11-2010

Boris Kovač – Music as a Bridge between Earth and Heaven
Historically and musically developed so that is really great and multifaceted Yugoslavian composer Boris Kovač was the real sound of the mirror of the tragic events in the country in the ’90s. Ethnic strife, bombings, death, violence, and eventually decay, all accurately reflected in the music track that left Kovac.
By education, Boris Kovac – musical autodidact. He studied at the Faculty of Philosophy in fact, but devoted his life to the philosophy of music. This experience greatly, by the way, affected the creativity Kovac as a whole. He does not see himself as an ordinary composer or a musician – he was first and foremost a philosopher who chose their means of expression is not a pen and paper, and the notes and musical instruments. This, incidentally, is another of its distinguishing feature – it combines the composer and performer, leveling the border, carried out between a single writer and musician.
Alexey Petuhov: Boris Kovač – Music as a Bridge between Earth and Heaven
read the whole article in 3 parts in Russian
visit link  http://users.livejournal.com/_smarty/139497.html
visit link http://users.livejournal.com/_smarty/140255.html
visit link http://users.livejournal.com/_smarty/tag/kovac

Kovac’s musical vision is unique to our region in its combination of incompatible – permanent restless hesitation, doubts and dilemmas of the thinking man’s intellectual and researchers with a traditional, pre-conscious folk music understandable that the same questions and answers repeated for decades, even centuries, on the other side…
Kovac for decades prevalent own concept and allows the music to live above meanings, carrying him but he is not being slaves…a delicate balance, and this is very obvious how much it cost for the author (and performer)…Kovač’s performances are always a mixture of nervous tension and ecstatic release, even now when he plays the most peaceful and toughtfull music…
Uroš Smiljanić
read the whole concert review in Serbian
visit link https://cvecezla.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/boris-kovac-tajj-kvartet-new-ritual-group-i-prijatelji-%E2%80%93-kolarceva-zaduzbina-25-januara-2011/

SELECTED  INTERWIES

an interview by Uroš Smiljanić (in English)
http://www.jazzin.rs/eng/boris-kovac-catalogue-of-memories/

an interview in the magazine Nova Misao by Gordana Nonin 
(the fragment in English)
http://www.novamisao.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/NM-Spec-m.pdf

(the whole interview in Serbian)
http://www.novamisao.org/2010/11/boris-kovac-najveca-je-umetnost-biti-srecan-covek/

a text about spiritual dimension in Kovač’s work (in Serbian)
http://www.duhovnirazvoj.com/Muzika/Boris%20Kovac.htm

a text by Boris Kovač about his work and life in Danas, daily newspaper (in Serbian)
http://www.naslovi.net/2014-01-03/danas/boris-kovac-katalog-secanja-na-putu-ka-sebi-i-drugima/8448238

an interview from 1998 by Nada Savković in the magazine Košava
http://www.yurope.com/zines/kosava/arhiva/3233/kovac.html

CHRONOLOGY OF WORKS

THE PATH

CD The Path

Published by ReR Megacorp London, 2017
Produced by Kachara MM Production–Pannonia 2015/2016

 

Composed by Boris Kovač / GEMA (Sokoj for Serbia only)

 

Performed by New Ritual Group

 

1. Intro into the Land 6.27
2. The Path 14.18
3. Book of Happiness – Dance 2.58
4. Traveling Music 7.41
5. Book of Happiness – Colour of Remembrance 1.42
5. Book of Happiness – Sunrise 3.29
7. Book of Happiness – Delight 5.53
8. Midnight prelude 6.11

 

total playing time 48.55
Recorded at The Old Synagogue in Novi Sad, in August 2015.
Recording engineered by Boris Kovač.
Recording operated by Ljuba Pejić.
Mixed by Boris Kovač at KACHARA MM STUDIO Bukovac (www.kacharammstudio.org)
Mastered at Athens Mastering studio, Greece.
Produced by Boris Kovač.
Photos in the booklet by Szilard Kovač, Zlatko Zlatković (New Ritual Group), and Ivan Grlić (Boris Kovač, portrait), design and layout by Tamara Jakovović, text translated by Tamara Jakovović and Nora Hoppe.This production was supported by The Secretariat of Culture and Public information of Vojvodina Region, Тhe City Councilor for Culture of Novi Sad, and Sokoj.

The Path

The Path The Path…a Path of Life…

This album has emerged as a compilation of works written for my smallest ensemble yet, a quartet, that consists of my most loyal musical comrades over the last several years: Slobodanka, Sinisa and Lav. If it was not for them, this album would not be what it is. Jasna, who recently joined us as a new member and complements my way of playing music in a unique manner, has brought an extra quality to this album, enriching what was originally written only for the quartet. The compositions were all written within a period of 15 years, and, despite their evident diversity, share something in common, as well. They are all dominated by contemplative, intimate tones…lyrical, wistful, melancholic… and their momentary ecstatic bursts are all sudden energetic and
expressive digressions that almost automatically return to their original state of “quietude”. I would like to hope that this “quietude” will bring the listener a certain internal charge, a charge that will open up to him/her a world that idealistically eschews the “turbulence” of contemporary urban everyday life… Because it is quite probable that my life in the countryside has enabled me to hear the sounds of space within me, a space closer to nature and silence.

BK 2016

Intro into the Land (2009)
A musical souvenir from the land of Pannonia, a fictional land featuring an endless plain, which was once upon a time the Pannonia Sea… A sea that had one (if not the only) island – known as Fruska Gora, at the bottom of whose slopes I live and from where I see that te
rrestrial infinity much like an endless sea… Standing on the plain, one feels hopelessly small, ne
arly non-existent, and for me at least, when I find myself in the midst of this infinity, I feel an irresistible urge to take off. This composition is in fact an imaginary flight over the Pannonian Plain. Its central part is what I envision as a landing on a salaš* (a Pannonian version of a ranch), in the midst of an otherwise indifferent infinity, where a celebration is in full swing –where a  tamburitza** orchestra is playing a “bećarac“***… Here a paradoxical blend of melancholy and joy is the dominating mood in a space called Pannonia.
* in Serbian salaš means a type of farm
** a Serbian version of mandolin or guitar
*** a form of folk music from the Vojvodina region, with often humorous and lascivious elements
The Path (2015)
The title of this composition refers to “the path of life”, and its musical form is very similar. As life is a path that we follow, not knowing what lies beyond the next hill or behind the next corner, we continue to be on this path the person we always were and yet with each station become different. Continuity and change: the dynamics – when we move along it; and the statics – when we pause and take a look back at the road behind us: the path…
Book of Happiness–Dance (1999)
A cycle of “miniatures” featured in Book of Happiness, which I wrote long ago, in 1999, during the NATO bombing of Serbia… Our historical reality was exposed to us when cruel and senseless forces were unleashed upon us in an unusually idyllic spring in which scents of lilac were giving way to scents of lily, and jasmine, and finally linden…
My idea had been to write one “miniature” a day, and once I began, I had to finish it – I was not going to leave it for tomorrow, because when bombs fall during the night, one cannot really rely on any tomorrow. These notes lay in my drawer for a long time, and last year, during a delicate health crisis, they suddenly rushed through my mind with echoes of: “How?” “Why?” Perhaps because those miniatures, although not being my best pieces, are probably the most beautiful ones I ever wrote. Perhaps I was thinking about a quote by Dostoevsky, in which he wrote,“Only beauty can save the world”…
Traveling Music (2014)
I’ve reached a stage in life in which I find myself travelling less and less physically… perhaps that is why I am“using” music as a“vehicle”.  Travelling, wandering, without a goal, without a destination. Surrendering to travelling itself.
Book of Happiness – Colour of Remembrance (1999)
One of my rare “love poems”. And love, a sentimental one I mean, is at its most delightful when it is gone, when we remember it…
Book of Happiness – Sunrise (1999)
When bombs struck at night, every dawn was as a new birth. “The sun is rising, we have survived.” … dawn – innocence, the tenderness of existence…
Book of Happiness – Delight (1999)
Music as a delight, a penetration through the membrane of space and time, an ascent into the paces of internal light…
Midnight prelude (2014)
A composition I wrote for a theatre play… It seems the ideal piece with which to conclude this album. Tones for the end of the day, shimmering like an opium vision, conveying that misty state between dream and reality…
Boris Kovač, Pannonia 2016

New Ritual Group from left to right… Siniša Mazalica – double bass ; Slobodanka Stević – piano; Boris Kovač – soprano sax, melodion; Jasna Jovićević – alto & soprano sax, bass clarinet ;Lav Kovač – drums, percussion

What’s remarkable about Boris is that he has carved out a musical form that transcends genre or even musical content; it’s a music of depth and feeling; and that’s what you hear beyond the notes or style.

from the ReR Megacorp catalogue

And he has gathered, over time, musicians who can realize that quality. This, for Boris, is a small group, only five people, so they can be looser, more personal than the larger ensembles. Though informed by chamber music, Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian folk music, and jazz, you can’t file this record in any of those categories. Lyrical and ostensibly simple, these exquisitely coloured and beautifully recorded compositions float, occasionally changing density, but always solid enough to be clear about what they are. The drums are especially subtle in this regard, more touch than motor, but they make themselves expressive, even forceful, when they need to. For the rest, the music moves as a sinuous wave, the parts distinct but not separated. It’s autumnal, that I could say.

Chris Cutler

TIMES OF DAY

CD Times of Day

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Published by ReR Megacorp London, 2015
Produced by KACHARA MM PRODUCTION – PANNONIA 2013/2014

1. Morning- 11:16
2. Noon- 12:34
3. Evening- 13:13
4. Midnight- 15:57
total playing time 53:08

Composed by Boris Kovač / GEMA (Sokoj for Serbia only)
Performed by New Ritual Ensemble:

Boris Kovač – reeds
Slobodanka Stević – piano
Vladimir Ćuković – I violin
Marta Kojadinović – II violin
Aleksandar Stankov – viola
Milica Svirac – cello
Siniša Mazalica – double bass
Lav Kovač – percussion/drums

Recorded at The Old Synagogue in Novi Sad, in November 2013.
Produced by Boris Kovač. Recording operated by Ljuba Pejić.
Mixed by Boris Kovač at KACHARA MM studio Bukovac.
Mastered at Athens Mastering studio, Greece.
Cover photo by Ivan Milinkov Vanjus, photos of the musicians by Tamara Jakoković, portret
photo by Ivan Grlić.
Design and layout by Tamara Jakoković
This production was supported by The Secretariat of Culture and Public information of Vojvodina Region and by the City Councilor for Culture of Novi Sad.

Times of day

Music for the times of day, or…
for the times of life… B.K.

Times of Day is a celebration of life!
Boris Kovač weaves a rich tapestry of each of the four intervals that make up a day in his universe: against the “warp” of the changes in light and various moods and activities (waking, toiling, thriving, resting, contemplating) that define a certain chapter in the recurring twenty-four hours of our lives, a “weft” of emotional, philosophical and spiritual reactions and impressions is woven to convey what it means for him to be alive in those moments.
Nora Hoppe, from the CD booklet

Though Boris derives his inspiration from the simple quotidian life of his small home village of Bukovac in Vojvodina, northern Serbia, his universe is rich and vast… His love of nature and slow village ways – far from the madding crowds of today’s barren globalised society – gives him deep insights into the fleeting, precious moments we ultimately call life.
Whereas “Times of Day” depicts the prolific textures and motifs of Boris’s daily environment… be they the winding tendrils of the grape vines, the hidden crickets’ wistful chirpings, the meandering village stream, the bleating of sheep on the hillsides, the snaking coils of smoke drifting from a neighbour grilling ćevapčići, the elongating shadows of trees over the potholed roads, a breeze transporting dry leaves and the smell of dusk, a gentle rain, the nocturnal howlings of street dogs… it also bares the heart and soul of this masterly witness doomed to impermanence – that reveal a gamut of responses from elegiac quietude, to the pangs of a wrenched heart, to the racing blood pulsations of pure joy… reminding us of the relentless course of Time, reminding us that we too are impermanent, that all is passing and that it is best to celebrate those moments left to us while we are still around to take notice of them.
Nora Hoppe, from the CD booklet

What Boris does is without parallel or precedent, and he’s been doing it for over 40 years, perfecting a language that is uniquely his own: not chamber music, not world music, not jazz – but demanding performance skills vital to all three. What do you call a music that is fully scored, played only by acoustic instruments, and demands not only extremely high technical standards from its performers but – if they are to imbue what is written with its proper ritual body – shared histories and deep cultural roots? To grasp the essence of this work, the composition and the ensemble need to be considered together and it’s this aspect of Boris’ work that is so exceptional. Composers write scores, while folk and jazz ensembles spin the present out of collective memory; Boris somehow manages to do both, and there is a depth here that’s not in the notes or in the performances but in an ability to tap into a collective reservoir of archetypical resonances. That’s the source of its intangible strength and apparent inevitability. It has, as we say, the ring of truth.

Chris Cutler, from the CD booklet

 

…all that were born in the Nature, the Mother of everything…
Thanks to Her and to all good and wised people who has somehow helped me to
understand the sense of simple… life.
Boris Kovač

Bukovac, Pannonia 2014.

I see this music as a fruit of my way of life, especially in the last
years, while I have been much more intimate with and affected by the nature
than by the culture. From a poetical sense of view I found this music belongs
to my “Simple Life” stage…
Starting from a spontaneous music contemplations, which have been played on my curved soprano sax in a different times of day, I’ve discovered that some motives where somehow connected with a differences in light and atmospheres and also with a mental and emotional states related to the particular time of day…Then I continue to develop that motives playing them in a chosen time of day only. And because every morning or evening is different when I had started to write a music piece based on that motives I’ve understood that I should leave an open spaces for a free, improvised way of playing at least for me as a solo performer in this “concerto for sax”.
In the structural and dramaturgic sense each of 4 parts begin from in impression of a particular time of day’s atmosphere and then the music became more and more an expression of inner, mental and emotional states and all became more human than natural…
But what is the most important: all that were born in the Nature, the Mother of everything…
Thanks to Her and to all good and wised people who has somehow helped me to
understand the sense of simple… life.

Boris Kovač
Bukovac, Pannonia 2014.

CATALOGUE OF MEMORIES

CD Catalogue of Memories

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Produced by KACHARA in 2012.
Distributed by ReR MEGACORP.UK

1. Catalogue of Memories – part one- 5:55
2. Broken Happy…Dance- 7:15
3. The First Promenade- 5:15
4. Flying, flying…Dance- 5:47
5. The Second Promenade- 7:34
6. Catalogue of Memories – part two- 6:55
7. Rain Drops Tango- 5:26

Performed by New Ritual Ensemble:

Aleksandra Krčmar – I violin
Slobodanka Stević – piano
Svetlana Spajić – alto
Boris Kovač – reeds
Siniša Mazalica – double bass
Lav Kovač – drums / percussion
Saša Panić – basoon
Goran Penić – accordion
Jelena Filipović – viola
Jovanka Mazalica – II violin
Timea Kalmar – cello
Vukašin Mišković – classical guitar
guests: Milan Nenin, guitar (1), Ištvan Čik, percussion (9)

Recorded at the Synagogue, Novi Sad, and at Kachara MM Studio, Bukovac, in winter 2009/2010. Mixed at KACHARA MM Studio in Bukovac. Produced by Boris Kovač. Recorded and mixed by Boris Kovač, assisted by Ljuba Pejić. Original photos for the CD graphic design created by Dejan Djuragić. Photos of the musicians by DALE & VANJUS. Design by 33.
KACHARA MM PRODUCTION 2009/2012
The production of the performance and recording of this music was supported by The Secretariat of Culture and Public Information of the Vojvodina Region. The production of this CD edition was supported by the City Councillor for Culture of Novi Sad.

Catalogue of Memories

More than a quarter of a century ago, during his first recordings as composer, musician and musical director, Boris Kovač used his Ritual Nova group to break many rules and destroy many boundaries…Being forever outside one’s time, denying time through one’s work is dangerous. This is an artist who gazes into the abyss, and the abyss looks away nervously.
Boris Kovač studied to be a philosopher but developed into a musician and composer… and should you go see him perform live today, he would be doing the only thing he was never taught to do: dance. 
Catalogue of Memories is a distilled package of his musical interests, a compendium of all the contemplations, rituals, dances and other movements he learned in much the same way he learned to play music – mostly on his own.
Catalogue of Memories celebrates musical memories from before we were born, while it also maps futures…It sets us free to be whoever we wish to be – even if only ourselves.
Uroš Smiljanić, from the CD booklet

Catalogue of Memories by Boris Kovač

More than a quarter of a century ago, during his first recordings as composer, musician and musical director, Boris Kovač used his Ritual Nova group to break many rules and destroy many boundaries. Springing forth from the worlds of jazz and improvised music, drawn to chamber composition, galvanized by the vast repository of images and memories integral to folk music and obsessed with myths whose truths are truer than truth itself (but not by any single mythology that tells only one facet of truth), Kovač entered the Yugoslav and international scene with a deeply personal music that spoke in a bold, universal language. Favouring an alchemical philosophy of combining disparate elements over an academic methodology… adhering more to the logic of dreams than to a postmodern approach… the rituals offered by Kovač could never be defined in historical or cultural terms; at most one could attempt to delineate them in “geographical” terms – in as much as one might perceive the ground one stands on and the air one breathes as sounds and harmonies.

No one knew how to classify this music, no one could even describe it.

In any case, those were other times.

Catalogue of Memories is a collection of music of another Boris Kovač… of a Boris Kovač who has spent more than a quarter of a century guiding others through his music and entrusting others with his music… of a Boris Kovač who was torn from the ground he stood on and who transformed the air for breathing, who tried to stop the wars with music and who mocked the apocalypse with dance… in order to give meaning to the end of History and Time. Ritual Nova and Catalogue of Memories are two different albums by two different people in two different countries in two different centuries, both connected by the one fact that neither can be classified or described – still today. Being forever outside one’s time, denying time through one’s work is dangerous. This is an artist who gazes into the abyss, and the abyss looks away nervously.

The philosopher who taught us to gaze into the abyss is the same one who asked other philosophers if they could dance. Boris Kovač studied to be a philosopher but developed into a musician and composer… and should you go see him perform live today, he would be doing the only thing he was never taught to do: dance.

The music Kovač was making in the nineties sought to battle the darkness of shifting paradigms and rouse the listener from decades of drunken slumber by being contemplative… by being so beautiful, it never had to get down and wrestle with ugliness but simply drove it from the ring in shame. Kovač went on to extend his range of interests, his choice of instruments, the palette of genres he painted with. He immersed himself in ecumenical teachings, interrogated the cosmos on the harmony of complementary contrasts, and he left his beloved Pannonia in order to return to it anew. Always in profound contact with the soil and its music, the composer knew how to evoke the sacred solitude of life in the lowlands, never stooping to vulgar nationalism or the provincial caricatures that “ethnic” (SIC!) music so frequently trips and falls into. “Personal yet universal” – this could have been his credo, as his music became progressively quieter, more graceful, leaving behind mere vibrations in the air, fickle traces that lead to meaning.

Then the nineties came to a halt with the spectacular First Remote-Controlled World War: the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Kovač could not continue speaking and playing softly while watching history repeat itself even after it already ended. Refusing to be defeated, he decided to triumph and entered the new century bringing along new music.

Kovač’s body of work from the first decade of the 21st century is deeply marked by the dance.  La Danza Apocalypsa Balcanica is a work that is almost aggressive in how it led his way out of chamber music, replacing contemplation with meditation in movement… saving souls with moving bodies, spiting death with life. His band La Campanella embraced this approach and rendered it more profound, more sophisticated, injecting Kovač’s music with new energy and boldness by marrying Middle European decadent dance with Latin flames, yet remaining deeply Pannonian to the end. Then came a renewed interest in chamber music marked by a double album simply entitled Chamber Music. This was followed by a return to a personal take on jazz and improvisation with the group Ultima Armonia.

And yet, in all this and throughout the years Kovač remained all he ever was…

Catalogue of Memories essentially draws a line, takes stock and, as suggested by its title, catalogues all the memories of everything that the author, musician, composer, dancer, philosopher Boris Kovač has accomplished in his life so far. Not a mere retrospective, certainly not a narcissistic homage to himself, Catalogue of Memories is a sum of Kovač’s contemplations, a distilled package of his musical interests, a compendium of all the dances and other movements he learned in much the same way he learned to play music – mostly on his own.

The marriage of the contemplative and the timeless on one hand with the physical, that which is determined by time – rhythm and tempo, – on the other is what characterises Catalogue of Memories most of all. The composer assembled a group of fifteen musicians, most of them his long-time friends who took part in past musical adventures that ranged from classical chamber works, to creations drawn from folk traditions, down to barroom dance pieces. Kovač never writes a note of music before he knows who will be playing it in the end. This versatile, multilayered album needed musicians who would make it sound like a logical whole – from the drummer and accordion player, down through the bassoonist and string players, on to the harpist, pianist, guitarist and singer. Kovač himself on winds and his son Lav on percussions are the cohesive force driving the music forwards.

As one listens to Catalogue of Memories, one hears the music itself learning how to dance – as in The First Promenade, which at first meanders softly, shyly, as the piano patters about throughout, but then, when the violin and saxophone enter, it suddenly places its hands on its hips and tosses its head back. And yet, it will not be possible to discern all the “steps” in the music at first go… The first two tracks jolt the listener with complex time signatures and contrasts in volume that end up sounding sublime, instead of aggressive. Catalogue of Memories – Part Two is especially intense in how it combines themes, rhythms and dynamics that hark back to Kovač’s first pieces in which he explored the ground between myth and dreams… but these new compositions do so more subtly this time, with even more grace.

Tango also returns in this album in Broken Happy… The dance comes on strong and resolute in Flying, flying… The dance moves with Pannonian tenderness and summoning ghosts for accompaniment regardless of the century on the calendar. The voice, so unusually featured in Ritual Nova recordings, is back again in the form of an instrument, shunning any verbal clarification of music but demanding to be clear on its own. The Dance is a language in itself, thoughts evolving into movement.  The Second Promenade is especially bold in eliminating boundaries between what is heard and what is imagined, its music so soft and slow that one will dance to it with eyes closed. Rain Drops Tango closes the album with passion and also with a wisp of melancholy that invokes questions rather than answers.

Catalogue of Memories celebrates musical memories of contemplations and dances from before we were born, while it also maps futures that extend not merely to the end of History itself but to the ends of all our personal histories. It sets us free to be whoever we wish to be – even if only ourselves. Contemplative but not indolent, playful but not vulgar, it does not even need to put ugliness to shame this time: it has indeed absorbed it, made it part of the big picture, metamorphosed it into unexpected harmonic forms and broken rhythms without ever abandoning grace. No rules, Kovač remembers, no boundaries… Let cartographers deal with those – he is too busy cataloguing his memories and finding in them things he never remembers remembering. How many future memories can we expect from a man talking about drawing a line and going into musical retirement? To judge by his latest live performances in which he dances ever more fiercely, plays ever more fervently – we could say that Boris is only just embarking on his memories.

So, make a cup of a warm tea, we will be here for quite a while…

Uroš Smiljanić, Belgrade, December 2012.
Translated in English – Uroš Smiljanić.
English language lecture and final touch by Nora Hoppe.

Reviews

“There are those special artists whose entire musical careers accompany one throughout one’s life… Boris Kovač has, with all this, achieved a legendary status with his variegated, exceptional and dazzling music… Because of the magical and mysterious elements in his music, no classification is successful. His ‘Catalogue of Memories’, a musical opus full of nostalgic and melancholic memories that strike deep chords, lifts one out of time and transports one from reality. It is an extraordinary, enchanting masterpiece – a world record in all respects.”
Jan Willem Broek
caleidoscoop/2013/05

Catalogue of Memories
There are those special artists that have been with you throughout your entire musical career, or at least a substantial part there of. In my early years as a reviewer, say from the start of the 90s in the last century, that is the Serbian, then Yugoslavian composer / multi-instrumentalist (usually on saxophone or clarinet and sometimes vocals) Boris Kovač. Kovač has been active since 1977 in the jazz group Meta Sekcija and forms Ritual Nova ensemble in 1982, consisting of like-minded musicians, visual artists, performers and dancers. With this ensemble he mainly makes avant-garde works with classical and folk influences. In 1986 and 1989, their results appear on the albums Ritual Nova I and II, which in turn appear bundled on CD in 1993. I was introduced to this great artist in 1991 when his CD Profana Liturgija was released. After that he escaped his war-ravaged country to continue making music from Italy, Slovenia and Austria. His works come from small but high quality labels like Møre Music and Interzone / Ikarus. Besides he has always been on innovative labels like ReR, Piranha, Victo and later on his own label Kachara. He usually moves through genres like avant-garde, dark cabaret, classical, folk, ethnic music and experimental music, where you always hear Eastern European influences resound; not only Yugoslav but also Bulgarian, Hungarian and Romanian. His homeland resurrects in 1999 after many bombings he starts his LaDaABa Orchest, which stands for La Danza Apocalyptica Balcanica. With this Orchestra he makes music in 2001 and 2003 which connects in an alternative way to the hyped Balkan Beats, and through this they dance in a conceptual way the war out of their system. That there is always a melancholy undertone present in his works is not more than logical. His musical path then continues with the ensemble La Campanella, which does meet his previous work. It is a special goulash of folk, Balkan music, jazz, blues, tangos, dark cabaret and avant-garde, with which the music of his native region of Vojvodina is strongly represented. Vojvodina is a central multicultural area in the Balkans where free-mindedness and diverse influences dominate from the East and West. Hence at certain times scraps of themes from the Far East, South America and Africa surface. The latest CD from them appeared last year, just like his experimental collaboration with the Armenian accordionist David Yengibarian. Boris Kovač has with all this achieved a legendary status with alternating, leading and wonderful music as a result.

Now his sixteenth album Catalogue Of Memories is published under his own name. Kovač plays soprano and alto saxophone, and is accompanied by the New Ritual Ensemble, which in terms of naming is like his previous Ritual Nova Ensemble but in composition differs. Besides Kovač there are 12 musicians who play violin, piano, bass, viola, bassoon, percussion, drums, contralto voice, classical guitar, cello, harp and accordion and also 3 guests on trombone, classical guitar and percussion. The music is in a strange way connected with the afore mentioned Ritual Nova albums although the composer has become a different person and the music has been created in two different countries (by splitting) and two different centuries. But the music has again the not to be categorized mysterious aspect. It is possible to find the separate aspects but the whole transcends many boundaries. Kovač has composed seven pieces, together lasting 45 minutes. He has made a cinematic cross-pollination of avant-garde, brass, tango, jazz, chamber music, neoclassical, Roma and Balkan music in which the ingredients in varying combinations pass by. Everything is imbued with an extremely gloomy, nocturnal and also romantic atmosphere. Contemplative music, partly because of that romantic aspect is always easily accessible. The music has similarities with the more subdued Tuxedomoon, but also elements of Ennio Morricone, Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Astor Piazzolla, Owain Phyfe, Goran Bregović, Arve Henriksen and Stevan Stojanovic Mokranjac seep through in disarmed, hushed and still passionate splendor. But because of the magical and mysterious element in his music, no comparison is successful. A musical range full of nostalgic and melancholic memories that manages to touch deep chords, puts you right back in time and carries you away from reality. It has become an incredible, enchanting masterpiece; a world record in all respects.
Jan Willem Broek
http://subjectivisten.typepad.com/caleidoscoop/2013/05/boris-kova%C4%8D-catalogue-of-memories.html

In over 30 years of meticulous and inspired work Boris has evolved a compositional style that is both simple and timeless; rooted in his own locality and universal. That’s a rare gift. And his small, dedicated, ensemble produces an exquisite, floating exposition that is both intimate and impersonal – equally rare. This is great, timeless, music…
from the ReR catalogue of distributed CDs
“Catalogue of Memories” can be understood as a kind of summary of Kovac’s musical opus, but it also reflects a special stage of maturity of the creative man who is now in his late fifties… more melodic, harmonious and colourful than ever…
Boris Kovac has always cultivated melody. Here is his invention truly exemplary.
…Kovac has succeeded in creating a riveting and compelling mood thanks to the inspired melodies, lucid harmonic-counterpoint solutions and colourful arrangements.
And, finally, he remains very much the man he has always been as he has remained steadfast in his resistance to commercial and populist trends…”
Marija Vitas
Etnoumlje Magazine, Radio Belgrade II Programme

KATALOG USPOMENA BORISA KOVAČA
Pre nešto više od dve godine, da budemo prezicni, 25. januara 2011-te, u Kolarčevoj zadužbini, imali smo priliku da se, u okviru jednog složenog koncertnog programa Borisa Kovača, upoznamo i sa nekoliko kompozicija kojima je anticipiran nov album. Do objavljivanja tog očekivanog albuma, evo, prošlo je ne baš malo vremena. Međutim, razlog čekanju nikako ne treba tražiti u eventualnoj lenjosti ili nedostatku inspiracije umetnika. Upravo suprotno! Boris Kovač je veoma vredan i ispunjen, čini se, nepresušnim kreativnim nabojem. Tokom 2012. godine, albumu Katalog uspomena odnosno u originalu na engleskom Catalogue of Memories, prethodila su čak dva Kovačeva audio izdanja: On Eastern Way i Fly By, a da ne pominjemo još i brojne, raznovrsne koncertne saradnje i projekte. Najnovije izdanje, Katalog uspomena možemo da shvatimo kao svojevrstan Kovačev rezime sopstvenog umetničkog rada, ali i kao poseban stadijum zrelosti kreativnog čoveka koji je u svojim kasnim pedesetim melodičniji, harmoničniji i koloritniji nego ikad, sa prirodnom distancom prema revoluciji i buntu, te sa veoma suptilno osmišljenom ritmičkom komponentom.
Boris Kovač je oduvek sklon melodiji. Tu je njegova invencija zaista uzorna. Upravo u svežim, gipkim i razvijenim temama leži privlačnost Kovačeve muzike. Pritom, lepota ovih melodija ne završava se samo na dobrom sledu tonova, već i na savršeno muzikalnoj interpretaciji, kako Borisa Kovača, tako i drugih, pažljivo odabranih članova nekog od brojnih sastava u okviru kojih je on do sada realizovao ideje. Na albumu Katalog uspomena, Kovač sa pojavljuje sa „New Ritual” ansamblom i gostima, ukupno 16 muzičara. Već taj broj kao i izbor instrumenata odnosno vokala, obećava sofisticiranu harmoniju i poigravanje sa zvučnom bojom. Pomenemo li ovde opet izraženu melodičnost i, u vezi sa tim, logično prisustvo kontrapunktskog rada u aranžmanu, jasno je da je pred nama album koji čulo sluha hrani toplim vibracijama a u mozgu stvara prijatnu atmosferu i primamljive slike.
Katalog uspomena donosi sedam instrumentalnih numera. Prisustvo vokala u dve naslovne kompozicije: „Katalog uspomena” – prvi i drugi deo, svedeno je na vokalizacije koje, u svojoj osnovi, menjaju tipično predvodničku ulogu ljudskog glasa, pretvarajući ga u jedan od instrumenata i, posebno, u jednu od boja ansambla. Deonica vokala je u pomenutim kompozicijama čvrsto utkana u gustu aranžmansku celinu, dodajući sa svoje strane uzvišeno-dramsku crtu i monumentalnost koje, inače, ne predstavljaju dominantan izraz na albumu. Izbor Svetlane Spajić za sugestivnog tumača ove alt linije, deluje kao više nego mudar potez.
Boris Kovač je rođen u malom mestu kod Petrovaradina, po imenu Bukovac, gde i danas živi. Ipak, njegova muzika koja je u dobroj meri oslonjena na tradiciju, ne nosi osobine ruralne već naglašeno urbane tradicije. Možda je na to uticalo i školovanje u Novom Sadu i Beogradu, kao i nekoliko godina života i rada u inostranstvu. U svakom slučaju, Kovačev senzibilitet je tipično građanski. On ne spada u world music umetnike koji prizivaju pastoralnost brda, dolina i livada. Takođe, u ritmičnijim, pseudo-plesnim numerama, on ne veliča buran, južnjački temperament seoskih kola koja su, pak, česta inspiracija domaćim stvaraocima. Strast Kovačeve muzike je strast urbanog čoveka, čija je energija pritajena, napeta i sapeta pravilnikom građanskog vaspitanja i stila života, bar onog nekadašnjeg. Otud, okosnicu Kovačevog opusa pa tako i najnovijeg albuma, Katalog uspomena, čine dva izrazita predstavnika svetske urbane muzičke prošlosti – klezmer i tango – oba melanholična, nostalgična, ali i žilava. Karakteristična raspoloženja ovih muzičkih formi i izraza, naročito su uočljiva u numerama „Broken Happy…Dance”, „Flying, flying…Dance” i „Rain Drops Tango”.
Urbana prošlost u muzici Borisa Kovača, nije probuđena isključivo tango i klezmer elementima. Čak i u nagoveštajima bliže srpsko-balkanske tradicije, kao u numeri „Prva promenada”, naslućuje se, kao svesni ili nesvesni uzor, srpsko kolo – i to ne ono narodno, seosko, već duh srpske građanske igre sa kraja 19-tog i početka 20-tog veka. Kao i Prva, tako i „Druga promenada” ima svoje asocijacije na gradsku prošlost, oživljavajući zvuk i emociju nekakvog setnog i elegičnog pop-džez-šlagera sa vinila.
Pored Borisa Kovača na sopran i alt saksofonu i pomenute vokalne interpretatorke Svetlane Spajić, na albumu ”Katalog uspomena” učestvuju i Aleksandra Krčmar Ćulibrk i Jovanka Mazalica – violine, Slobodanka Stević – klavir, Siniša Mazalica – kontrabas, Jelena Filipović – viola, Saša Panić – fagot, Lav Kovač – bubnjevi i udaraljke, Vukašin Mišković – gitara, Timea Kalmar – čelo, Ivana Pavlović – harfa, Goran Penić – harmonika, Milan Nenin – gitara, Nikola Milanov – trombon i Ištvan Čik – udaraljke.
Za album Katalog uspomena ne može se reći da pomera temelje savremene muzike uopšte, pa tako i world music žanra u koji se Boris Kovač, hteo ne hteo, ubraja. Osim toga, pojedinim numerama na albumu nedostaje čvršća struktura, ili, kako bi se to u žargonu reklo, kičma, posebno ako uzmemo u obzir dužinu njihovih trajanja, koje se kreću od pet i po do sedam i po minuta. Ipak, ono što je izvesno – Boris Kovač je na još jednom svom albumu uspeo da stvori sjajnu i ubedljivu atmosferu, ambijent, upravo zahvaljujući nadahnutoj melodičnosti, lucidnim harmonsko-kontrapunktskim rešenjima i koloritnim aranžmanima. I, konačno, takav kakav jeste, sa stalnim otporom prema komercijalnom i populističkom, ali i očiglednom težnjom da bude prepoznat i shvaćen, Kovač predstavlja autentičnu ličnost na domaćoj sceni.

CHAMBER MUSIC

CD1 ANAMNESIS, ECUMENICAL MYSTERIES

CD Chamber Music

Avada Macbook Image

Published in 2010 by LONG ARMS, Russia, B92, Serbia (for Serbia) and Ad HOC Records, US
Performed by the Sunny Orchestra:

Svetlana Spajić – alto
Milica Šuica – mezzosoprano
Aleksnadra Krčmar – violin
Timea Kalmar – cello
Saša Panić – bassoon
Boris Kovač – alto & soprano sax
Slobodanka Stević – piano
Ivana Pavlović – harp
Lav Kovač – percussion

Anamnesis, according to Plato, is the act of remembering the true world, the world illuminated by the sun. I wrote this music in 1991/92 during the war in former Yugoslavia. It was my “response” to the challenge created by the situation: a fictitious ecumenical liturgy vis-à-vis the bloody conflict amongst the Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim populations. This was the voice of personal resistance against the oppression of nationalistic hysteria.
B. K. 

Review
Cd1 Anamnesis, ecumenical mysteries can be determined as a liturgy that is beyond all confessions and against the war… This music sounds so sincere and pure, almost naïve. It seems that there were nothing before, or even there would not be anything after; or it would be something completely different, that we even not able to imagine yet…
Starik Kozlodoev, Magazine Stereo & Video №11-2010

Many years ago, when author of this article was seriously interested in Goran Bregovic’s music, he wrote a completely apologetic article about the author of the early 90’s Moscow taxi drivers’ favorite song (‘In A Death Car’, of course). In that article he without knowing and without listening but offhand told a few pejorative words about the saxophonist and composer Boris Kovac.
Now, my friends, it is time to apologize and even, perhaps, sprinkle ashes on my head. I declare with all my responsibility: the ex-jazz saxophonist Kovac is not “one of those, which a few in any seaside town on the Adriatic”. No, he is the one. In any of his musical incarnations, whether it is a popular La Campanella or more refined LaDaABa orchest («Orchestra for barbaric apocalyptic Balkan dance» – this is what the strange acronym stands for), he actually was and remains one of the most interesting European composers of our time. Attention, I’m not kidding!

… Kovac likes to say that today humanity lives beyond the time, that time is over – and a history with it, of course, too. His three albums recorded with LaDaABa orchest, have corresponding names: Last Balkan Tango, Ballads at the End of Time and the World after History. In one interview he clarifyed: “after all that we have experienced, I can say that I no longer believe in the history and try to find some space outside it”. Kovacs, who survived the tragic disintegration of his homeland (he considers not Serbia but Yugoslavia his home), has a right for such an opinion. Kovacs still full of deep sorrow, while Bregovic and Kusturica, who are more known in the world, each in its own way, are overcoming the post-war syndrome by a play and theatricalities over the idea of the war, mocking and even winning over a war idea by laughter and love (of course they also has a right to that!).

For him, who was broad up in Vojvodina, an area where representatives of twenty nationalities lived before the war, the collapse of Yugoslavia was unbearable – and above all, because he “could not find himself, when people turned to nationalism. I am not a nationalist”. In fact, there is nothing appalling then nationalism – there are things worse, more terrible, tougher, but there is no nastier – NO, and here I agree with Kovach. I can only rejoice the fact that his new double album was released by Russian label “Long Arms”.

According to Kovacs this album is a sort of ‘opus magnum’ – the main work in his life. The first CD presents new version of “Anamnesis: Ecumenical Mysteries” suite that has been published in 1996 at the Canadian label ‘Victo’. It consists of four parts. It can be determined as a liturgy that is beyond all confessions and against the war (it was recorded by Sunny Orchestra, which was specially gathered for the recording). It is mournful and at the same time very inspiring work, which have merged ethnic component, minimalism, medieval rhythms and even rock expression. I was not able to listen to 14-year-old recording. I haven’t heard the previous edition that was released 14 years ago. I’m not quite clear what composer added or changed. But this music sounds so sincere and pure, almost naïve. It seems that there were nothing before, or even there would not be anything after; or it would be something completely different, that we even not able to imagine yet.

The second CD contains the chamber pieces written by Kovac on different occasions over the past 15 years. He re-arranged them and united under the name of “Ballads and Dances from the Upland” for the new edition. The famous “The Last Balkan Tango”, which concludes the second disc is very accurately and appropriately links it with the first one. The Upland – the non-existent toponym, perhaps, means for the author the very “space beyond the history”, a place where at least in a dream, one can make a fresh start, turn over a new leaf. Because the new life building after blood, death and betrayals of 90’s in the Balkans is a very painful process, even though people have amazing ability to forget.
Last year, Kovacs experienced a terrible road accident, injured his spine. He spent few months almost motionless. Thanks God, he recovered and even went to Russia with a mini-tour. At the same time he released this, in my opinion, very important album (the fact that it was recorded in the Novi Sad’s synagogue is also, in my opinion, very symbolic and important). Kovac’s double CD that was released in limited edition, unlikely would be noticed by the general public. But it exists and it’s important.

This album – about what Kovach would forget if he could.
But still he can’t.

Boris Kovac – Chamber Music (2CD, Long Arms Records, 2010)
This article is partly based on Boris Kovac’s interview given in 2005 to Grigoriy Durnovo for the “Gazeta” (http://www.gzt.ru/topnews/culture/-ya-boljshe-ne-veryu-v-istoriyu-/60206.html). Thank you, Grisha!

Много лет назад, когда автор этих строк был всерьез увлечен музыкой Горана Бреговича, он в напрочь апологетической статье об авторе любимой песни московских таксистов начала 90-х (In A Death Car, ясное дело) походя, не разобравшись и не вслушавшись, бросил несколько уничижительных слов в адрес саксофониста и композитора Бориса Ковача.
Так вот, друзья, пришла пора извиниться и даже, может быть, посыпать главу пеплом. Ответственно заявляю: экс-джазовый саксофонист Ковач вовсе не «из тех, каких по нескольку в любом приморском городке на Адриатике». Нет, он такой один. Практически в любом из своих музыкальных воплощений, будь то популярный состав La Campanella или более изысканный LaDaABa orchest («оркестр варварского апокалиптического балканского танца» – так расшифровывается эта странная аббревиатура), он был и остается одним из – внимание, я не шучу! – самых интересных европейских композиторов нашего времени.
…Ковач любит говорить о том, что сегодня человечество живет вне времени, что время кончилось – и история вместе с ним, естественно, тоже. Его три альбома, записанные с LaDaABa orchest, носят соответствующие названия: Last Balkan Tango, Ballads at the End of Time и World after History. В одном интервью он уточнил: «после всего, что мы испытали, я могу сказать, что больше не верю в историю и пытаюсь найти какое-то пространство вне истории». Ковач, переживший трагический распад своей родины (а он считает родиной не Сербию, а именно Югославию), имеет право на такое мнение. И если, скажем, более известные миру Брегович и Кустурица, каждый по-своему, преодолевают поствоенный синдром, резвяся и играя, травестируя саму идею войны, комикуя и даже побеждая войну смехом и любовью (на что тоже имеют полное право, безусловно!), то Ковач и поныне полон скорби.
Для него, выросшего в Воеводине, районе, где до войны жили представители двадцати национальностей, развал Югославии был невыносим – и прежде всего потому, что сам он «не смог найти себя, когда люди обратились к национализму. Я не националист». В сущности, нет ничего омерзительнее национализма – есть вещи хуже, жутче, жестче, но гаже – нету, тут я с Ковачем согласен. И потому могу только радоваться, что новый двойной альбом его вышел на российском лейбле «Длинные Руки».
Как считает сам Ковач, это его в нектором роде opus magnum — главная в жизни работа. На первом диске представлена новая версия уже выходившей в 1996-м на канадской фирме Victo четырехчастной сюиты «Анамнезис, Экуменические мистерии» – своеобразной внеконфессиональной литургии на фоне войны (она записана специально для этого собранным составом Sunny Orchestra). Это – скорбное и в то же время светлое произведение, в котором слились воедино этническая компонента, минимализм, средневековая ритмика и даже экспрессия рока. Мне не довелось слышать запись 14-летней давности, мне неясно, что именно добавил или изменил композитор, но эта музыка звучит так искренне и чисто, почти наивно, как будто то ли до него ничего не было, то ли после уже ничего не будет – или же будет нечто иное, о чем мы пока и вовсе не подозреваем.
На втором диске собраны камерные пьесы, написанные Ковачем по разным поводам за последние 15 лет; для нового релиза он заново аранжировал их и объединил под названием «Баллады и танцы с Нагорья». Знаменитое «Последнее балканское танго», которым завершается второй диск, очень точно и уместно связывает его с первым – несуществующий топоним Нагорье, наверное, и есть для автора то самое «пространство вне истории», место, где хотя бы в фантазиях можно начать все заново, с чистого листа. Потому что устройство новой жизни после такого количества крови, смертей и предательств, какое было в 90-е на Балканах – процесс мучительный, хоть люди и обладают удивительным даром забвения.
В прошлом году Ковач попал в жуткую автоаварию, повредил позвоночник. Несколько месяцев лежал практически без движения. Слава Богу он выздоровел и даже приехал в Россию с мини-туром – и заодно выпустил этот, на мой взгляд, очень важный и для нашей страны альбом (то, что он записан в синагоге города Нови Сад тоже, на мой взгляд, очень символично и важно). Двойник Ковача, вышедший небольшим тиражом, вряд ли будет замечен широкой публикой – но он есть, и это главное.
Эта пластинка – о том, о чем Ковач забыл бы, если б мог.
Но пока не может.
Boris Kovac – Chamber Music (2CD, Long Arms Records, 2010)
В подготовке текста использовано интервью Бориса Ковача, данное Григорию

CD2 DANCES AND BALLADS FROM THE HIHGLAND

CD Chamber Music, CD2 Ballads and Dances from the Highland

performed by the string quartet TAJJ
Vlada Puškaš – oboe
Ištvan Čik – percussion

It is an anthology of music I composed for a string quartet over the last 15 years. Some of the pieces were commissioned by dance and ballet companies. The red thread linking these various different pieces has a fictitious name: a highland. A paradox, a piece and a turbulence, bright and cold sunshine, loneliness and yearning, dance over an abyss, an angel’s remembrance.
B. K.

Review

Cd2 Ballads and Dances from the Highland. The highland – the non-existent toponym, perhaps, means for the author the very “space beyond the history”, a place where at least in a dream, one can make a fresh start, turn over a new leaf. Because the new life building after blood, death and betrayals of 90’s in the Balkans is a very painful process, even though people have amazing ability to forget…
This album – about what Kovach would forget if he could. But still he can’t.
Starik Kozlodoev, Magazine Stereo & Video №11-2010

Many years ago, when author of this article was seriously interested in Goran Bregovic’s music, he wrote a completely apologetic article about the author of the early 90’s Moscow taxi drivers’ favorite song (‘In A Death Car’, of course). In that article he without knowing and without listening but offhand told a few pejorative words about the saxophonist and composer Boris Kovac.
Now, my friends, it is time to apologize and even, perhaps, sprinkle ashes on my head. I declare with all my responsibility: the ex-jazz saxophonist Kovac is not “one of those, which a few in any seaside town on the Adriatic”. No, he is the one. In any of his musical incarnations, whether it is a popular La Campanella or more refined LaDaABa orchest («Orchestra for barbaric apocalyptic Balkan dance» – this is what the strange acronym stands for), he actually was and remains one of the most interesting European composers of our time. Attention, I’m not kidding!
… Kovac likes to say that today humanity lives beyond the time, that time is over – and a history with it, of course, too. His three albums recorded with LaDaABa orchest, have corresponding names: Last Balkan Tango, Ballads at the End of Time and the World after History. In one interview he clarifyed: “after all that we have experienced, I can say that I no longer believe in the history and try to find some space outside it”. Kovacs, who survived the tragic disintegration of his homeland (he considers not Serbia but Yugoslavia his home), has a right for such an opinion. Kovacs still full of deep sorrow, while Bregovic and Kusturica, who are more known in the world, each in its own way, are overcoming the post-war syndrome by a play and theatricalities over the idea of the war, mocking and even winning over a war idea by laughter and love (of course they also has a right to that!).

For him, who was broad up in Vojvodina, an area where representatives of twenty nationalities lived before the war, the collapse of Yugoslavia was unbearable – and above all, because he “could not find himself, when people turned to nationalism. I am not a nationalist”. In fact, there is nothing appalling then nationalism – there are things worse, more terrible, tougher, but there is no nastier – NO, and here I agree with Kovach. I can only rejoice the fact that his new double album was released by Russian label “Long Arms”.

According to Kovacs this album is a sort of ‘opus magnum’ – the main work in his life. The first CD presents new version of “Anamnesis: Ecumenical Mysteries” suite that has been published in 1996 at the Canadian label ‘Victo’. It consists of four parts. It can be determined as a liturgy that is beyond all confessions and against the war (it was recorded by Sunny Orchestra, which was specially gathered for the recording). It is mournful and at the same time very inspiring work, which have merged ethnic component, minimalism, medieval rhythms and even rock expression. I was not able to listen to 14-year-old recording. I haven’t heard the previous edition that was released 14 years ago. I’m not quite clear what composer added or changed. But this music sounds so sincere and pure, almost naïve. It seems that there were nothing before, or even there would not be anything after; or it would be something completely different, that we even not able to imagine yet.

The second CD contains the chamber pieces written by Kovac on different occasions over the past 15 years. He re-arranged them and united under the name of “Ballads and Dances from the Upland” for the new edition. The famous “The Last Balkan Tango”, which concludes the second disc is very accurately and appropriately links it with the first one. The Upland – the non-existent toponym, perhaps, means for the author the very “space beyond the history”, a place where at least in a dream, one can make a fresh start, turn over a new leaf. Because the new life building after blood, death and betrayals of 90’s in the Balkans is a very painful process, even though people have amazing ability to forget.
Last year, Kovacs experienced a terrible road accident, injured his spine. He spent few months almost motionless. Thanks God, he recovered and even went to Russia with a mini-tour. At the same time he released this, in my opinion, very important album (the fact that it was recorded in the Novi Sad’s synagogue is also, in my opinion, very symbolic and important). Kovac’s double CD that was released in limited edition, unlikely would be noticed by the general public. But it exists and it’s important.

This album – about what Kovach would forget if he could.
But still he can’t.

Boris Kovac – Chamber Music (2CD, Long Arms Records, 2010)
This article is partly based on Boris Kovac’s interview given in 2005 to Grigoriy Durnovo for the “Gazeta” (http://www.gzt.ru/topnews/culture/-ya-boljshe-ne-veryu-v-istoriyu-/60206.html). Thank you, Grisha!

Много лет назад, когда автор этих строк был всерьез увлечен музыкой Горана Бреговича, он в напрочь апологетической статье об авторе любимой песни московских таксистов начала 90-х (In A Death Car, ясное дело) походя, не разобравшись и не вслушавшись, бросил несколько уничижительных слов в адрес саксофониста и композитора Бориса Ковача.
Так вот, друзья, пришла пора извиниться и даже, может быть, посыпать главу пеплом. Ответственно заявляю: экс-джазовый саксофонист Ковач вовсе не «из тех, каких по нескольку в любом приморском городке на Адриатике». Нет, он такой один. Практически в любом из своих музыкальных воплощений, будь то популярный состав La Campanella или более изысканный LaDaABa orchest («оркестр варварского апокалиптического балканского танца» – так расшифровывается эта странная аббревиатура), он был и остается одним из – внимание, я не шучу! – самых интересных европейских композиторов нашего времени.
…Ковач любит говорить о том, что сегодня человечество живет вне времени, что время кончилось – и история вместе с ним, естественно, тоже. Его три альбома, записанные с LaDaABa orchest, носят соответствующие названия: Last Balkan Tango, Ballads at the End of Time и World after History. В одном интервью он уточнил: «после всего, что мы испытали, я могу сказать, что больше не верю в историю и пытаюсь найти какое-то пространство вне истории». Ковач, переживший трагический распад своей родины (а он считает родиной не Сербию, а именно Югославию), имеет право на такое мнение. И если, скажем, более известные миру Брегович и Кустурица, каждый по-своему, преодолевают поствоенный синдром, резвяся и играя, травестируя саму идею войны, комикуя и даже побеждая войну смехом и любовью (на что тоже имеют полное право, безусловно!), то Ковач и поныне полон скорби.
Для него, выросшего в Воеводине, районе, где до войны жили представители двадцати национальностей, развал Югославии был невыносим – и прежде всего потому, что сам он «не смог найти себя, когда люди обратились к национализму. Я не националист». В сущности, нет ничего омерзительнее национализма – есть вещи хуже, жутче, жестче, но гаже – нету, тут я с Ковачем согласен. И потому могу только радоваться, что новый двойной альбом его вышел на российском лейбле «Длинные Руки».
Как считает сам Ковач, это его в нектором роде opus magnum — главная в жизни работа. На первом диске представлена новая версия уже выходившей в 1996-м на канадской фирме Victo четырехчастной сюиты «Анамнезис, Экуменические мистерии» – своеобразной внеконфессиональной литургии на фоне войны (она записана специально для этого собранным составом Sunny Orchestra). Это – скорбное и в то же время светлое произведение, в котором слились воедино этническая компонента, минимализм, средневековая ритмика и даже экспрессия рока. Мне не довелось слышать запись 14-летней давности, мне неясно, что именно добавил или изменил композитор, но эта музыка звучит так искренне и чисто, почти наивно, как будто то ли до него ничего не было, то ли после уже ничего не будет – или же будет нечто иное, о чем мы пока и вовсе не подозреваем.
На втором диске собраны камерные пьесы, написанные Ковачем по разным поводам за последние 15 лет; для нового релиза он заново аранжировал их и объединил под названием «Баллады и танцы с Нагорья». Знаменитое «Последнее балканское танго», которым завершается второй диск, очень точно и уместно связывает его с первым – несуществующий топоним Нагорье, наверное, и есть для автора то самое «пространство вне истории», место, где хотя бы в фантазиях можно начать все заново, с чистого листа. Потому что устройство новой жизни после такого количества крови, смертей и предательств, какое было в 90-е на Балканах – процесс мучительный, хоть люди и обладают удивительным даром забвения.
В прошлом году Ковач попал в жуткую автоаварию, повредил позвоночник. Несколько месяцев лежал практически без движения. Слава Богу он выздоровел и даже приехал в Россию с мини-туром – и заодно выпустил этот, на мой взгляд, очень важный и для нашей страны альбом (то, что он записан в синагоге города Нови Сад тоже, на мой взгляд, очень символично и важно). Двойник Ковача, вышедший небольшим тиражом, вряд ли будет замечен широкой публикой – но он есть, и это главное.
Эта пластинка – о том, о чем Ковач забыл бы, если б мог.
Но пока не может.
Boris Kovac – Chamber Music (2CD, Long Arms Records, 2010)
В подготовке текста использовано интервью Бориса Ковача, данное Григорию

“Kovač’s musical vision is unique to our region due to its amalgamation of otherwise incompatible elements. It reflects a permanent restless hesitation, the doubts and dilemmas of the thinking man’s intellect. It goes beyond the traditional, pre-conscious forms of folk music, in which the same questions and answers have been repeated for decades, even centuries.
Kovač’s “Chamber Music” is an extraordinarily compelling overview of the fascinating career of an artist who never composes music because it feels good, but because it is the only way for him to survive in a world that is never the right one…”
Uroš Smiljanić, Jazzin

 

DAMARI

CD Damari

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Produced by KACHARA in 1999.
Distributed by ReR MEGACORP.UK
Performed by Ritual Nova Ensemble:

Florijan Balaž – violin
Bogdan Ranković – clarinet, bass clarinet
Vanja Češnjevar – piano
Miloš Matić – double bass
Boris Kovač – alto, sloprano sax

The pair I-YOU is an essential word. Another essential word is the I-IT pair.
The essential word I-YOU can be told only with the whole of the being.
The essential word I-IT can never be told with the whole of the being.
Man becomes I only in touch with YOU.
The relationship with YOU is immediate. Between I and YOU there is no purpose.
Spirit is not situated within I, but in between I and YOU. Man lives in
his spirit when he is capable of responding to his YOU.
The man who cannot pronounce the essential word is unhappy, but the one
who addresses you with a notion or a slogan as if it was your name is miserable.
Feelings are what you have, whereas love is what happens. Feelings
reside in man, whereas man resides in his love . Love is between I and
YOU.
The sublime melancholy of your destiny lies in the fact that every YOU
in our world has to become IT.
Martin Buber, I and YOU

EAST OFF EUROPE

CD East Off Europe

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Published by Les Disques VICTO, Canada, 1998.
for the Ritual Nova Ensemble / in 3 parts: Visible Side, Invisible Side, Finale

Performed by Ritual Nova Ensemble:

Nenad Vrbaški – violin
Bogdan Ranković – clarinet / bass clarinet
Ivica Marušević – double bass
Saša Svijić – piano
Jaroslava Benka – soprano
Boris Kovač – soprano & alto sax, gran cassa

This music came as the top point of my life and artistic paradox.
B.K.

Review
Boris Kovac’s second album for the Canadian label Disques Victo, East Off Europe: Closing the Circle ranks among the best musical achievements of his career… The contrasts between quiet and powerful, pastoral and dark are enhanced by a wonderful comprehension of dynamics…Moreover it is crucial to understand that Kovac’s music does not belong to classical music, rock music, or even instrumental music, nor does it fit into a particular time period. Beautifully timeless and moving, East Off Europe: Closing the Circle can be a revelation to any open-minded music lover.
François Couture, All Music

read the whole review
http://www.allmusic.com/album/east-off-europe-closing-the-circle-mw0000567322

PLAY ON STRING

CD Play on Sring

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Published by More Music, Italy, 1995.
produced by En Knap dance company
performed by Enzo Fabiani string quartet

An effort to freeze the flight. A dance over an abyss. With a tender thought. Wind is quite strong up there… B.K.

Review 
Play on String: Music for the Last Dinner was the first album by Boris Kovac not to feature him as a performer… All the lyricism of Kovac’s soul, stemming from his life away from home as his beloved Novi Sad was being pummeled, is brilliantly put on display… His audacious harmonies and melodies of despair find a crystalline quality in the playing of the Enzo Fabiani Quartet.
François Couture, All Music
read the whole review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/play-on-string-music-for-the-last-dinner-mw0000979683

ANAMNESIS ECUMENICAL MYSTERIES

CD Anamnesis, Ecumenical Mysteries (first version, 1992)

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Published by Victo, Canada, 1996
Performed by Ritual Nova Ensemble:

Jaroslava Benka – soprano
Mihal Budimski – violin
Nebojša Pandurović – cello
Srdjan Dalagija – piano
Ljubomir Živković – persussion
Boris Kovač – reeds

Anamnesis has a clearly chamber music set up, solemn atmospheres, minimalist innuendos, quasi-orchestral sonori-ties. Its evocative sonic landscapes, of a tormenting beauty… Anamnesis is indeed consolatory and its implications are extremely poignant: a hymn to acceptance, dialogue and understanding coming from a tortured and torn land.

Fabrizio Gilardino, from the CD booklet

Anamnesis has a clearly chamber music set up, solemn atmospheres, minimalist innuendos, quasi-orchestral sonori-ties. Its evocative sonic landscapes, of a tormenting beauty, could be viewed as part of the ongoing spiritual renewal characteristic of many contemporary East-European composers such as Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki.
Nevertheless, Kovac’s music language is far more impure and contaminated. It reveals the composer’s Serbian, Hungarian and Rumanian roots and discloses similarities with the darker side of Rock In Opposition (bands such as France’s Art Zoyd and Belgium’s Univers Zero, which, paradoxically, were the less «rock» of the groups involved), as well as with the Third Ear Band, combined with the manifest influence of Béla Bartók and Balkan folk music. As Boris Kovac stated : «Music is the last consolation between heaven and earth»; Anamnesisis indeed consolatory and its implications are extremely poignant: a hymn to acceptance, dialogue and understanding coming from a tortured and torn land.
Fabrizio Gilardino, from the CD booklet
Review
A THOUSAND YEAR BLEND IN THE SHADE OF THE BALKANS
Anamnesis by Boris Kovac performed by Ritual Nova ensemble is a result of great composition and arrangement efforts and results in a great unity of the thousand year long Balkan culture, an outcome of an east-west fusion and contemporary music at the same  time. Tunes inspired by folklore and influenced by Bartokianism, gypsy music, Orthodoxy and great Balkan composers of the last few centuries are deeply connected with their own culture.
… After the performance of this original and inciting music we are convinced that Boris Kovac is the most remarkable representative of Balkan music.
Alessandro Nobis,  Verona / Italy March 1, 1993

PROFANA LITURGIJA

CD Profana liturgija, Fenomenology of the Soul

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Published by ADN, Milano, 1991
Performed by Ritual Nova Ensemble:

Nenad Vrbaški – violin
Nebojša Pandurović – cello
Veljko Nikolić Nik – sampler/percussion/accordion
Bora Janić – drums
Boris Kovač –reeds/sampler/accordion

Music is the last consolation between earth and sky. Deus sive natura. Petrol is more expensive today. I live in a country called Yugoslavia and sometimes remember my father. Children are singing in the street…The neighbour is drunk...B.K. (Bukovac-Roma 1991)

Review
A substantial and rooted composition heavy with the history of a ravaged and unsettled land (Pannonia, Jugoslavia), including its dark present. Profoundly serious work, and unfashionably moving. Boris deserves far greater attention than he receives.
from the ReR Catalogue

RITUAL NOVA I&II

CD Ritual Nova I&II / collection of works from 2 LPs

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Published by ADN, Milano, 1991
Performed by Ritual Nova Ensemble:

Nenad Vrbaški – violin
Nebojša Pandurović – cello
Veljko Nikolić Nik – sampler/percussion/accordion
Bora Janić – drums
Boris Kovač –reeds/sampler/accordion

Myth is the inner, symbolic substance of Truth. Except for the cognitive,  Myth possesses the aesthetic, ethic and sacral dimension. It is the Truth made by man himself. As Kolakowsky says, myth creation is the only human power that succeeds  in vanquishing the indifference of the world. Music and Myth correspond to each other in several respects. The mythic time is universal: what happened once  is  valid forever.  Music as a temporal art par excellence also aspires toi  hold and to change the linear time sequence, that is to create its own time, inner and endless. B.K. (from the book Mirror of the Voice – poetical CV, find more at the Poetical CV )

Review
DREAM ACADEMY
Boris KOVAC successfully combines a great portion of Balkan European heritage with contemporary sound experience, which is indisputably testified by the Ritual Nova record…. It has been long since I heard such personally experienced music, such a creative expression of inspiration.
Andonis N. Frankos,  Poprock, Athens, 1994
(The magazine pronounced the record Ritual Nova I&II the best record of the issue)