May 1, 1951 was the birth date of the first state folk ensemble, founded and directed by Philip KOUTEV (1903-1982) to the end of his days. It was for the first time that the authentic songs, tunes and dances were given a polyphonic presentation on the stage (characteristic of the Bulgarian folk tradition is the monophonic singing; in some regions like the Pirin Mountains, the Shoppe Region and the regions of Ihtiman and Pazardjik two-part singing also exists and multi-part singing is to be found only in some villages near the town of Gotse Delchev), with an orchestra of Bulgarian folk instruments, treated, however, like those in a classical orchestra. This could not have been possible without the participation of a composer to unite both voices so unique and instruments so technically imperfect. At the same time he was to remain true to the musical original, to preserve the characteristic sound-production and his interference was to remain inconspicuous. At first glance this seems an impossible task. Yet Philip Koutev managed to achieve it. What is more, he created a school of singers, instrumentalists, dancers, composers, choreographers, conductors, invented a new trend in Bulgaria's musical life in the second half of the 20th century. Following his example, similar ensembles were founded in almost all bigger cities in Bulgaria.
Philip Koutev's work was in constant progress and this CD is an illustration of the almost half-a-century folk-musical process. Starting with Koutev's famous Polegnala e Tudora (Tudora Lay Down), the singers perform several of his songs, among which Lale li si, zyumbyul li si (Are You a Tulip, or a Hyacinth), Dragana i slavei (Dragana and the Nightingale). The songs and instrumental pieces by Georgi Genov, Georgi Andreev and Hristofor Radanov show us the musical idiom of the younger generation, while Theodosii Spassov's Slunchogledi (Sunflowers) and Iskutena nevesta (A Well-Groomed Bride) are indicative of a musician's non-traditional approach to the different genres. The programme ends with Dva guluba (Two Pigeons) by Kosta Kolev, a renowned master of folk arrangements. And to complete the picture, there are three sisters from the Pirin Mountains and some Shoppe women who take us back to the original sources of this fascinating music.