Friday, January 27, 2006

Atanas Ourkouzounov

This is a BUlgarian guitarist and composer born about 1970 if I recall correctly, and he currently resides in Paris. He has published a variety of pieces for solo guitar and chamber music including the guitar over the last seven or eight years. He has a fantastic CD on the Kle label called Contes des Balkans (named after a piece that he has written), recorded by the Ourkouzounov Ensemble.

His main influences are, at first glance, Bulgarian musical traditions and Bartok. Bartok has already proven for at least the last century that Bulgarian and other Eastern European musical traditions are rich fodder indeed for cool music. This is also true in what ourkouzounov writes for the guitar. I like to think that if Bartok ever got around to writing for guitar what he would have produced would sound at least something like what Ourkouzounov is writing now.

Most of the works on Contes des Balkans are vailable through Western publishers. His great little Sonatine for flute and guitar is available through Les Productions d'Oz in Quebec and they keep this great little number regularly in stock. The publisher of his Sonatina Bulgarica for violin and guitar escapes me at the moment but it is also available, though it's a score that too me a bit more time to find.

A brief overview of his music from here: Ourkouzounov employs many assymetric meters as motoric devices to propel his music along, often 7/8 or unusual subdivisons of 9/8 (Brubeck got his 2+2+2+3 pattern from Turkish music, which has interacted with Bulgarian music aplenty). In hs Sonatine for flute and guitar he shifts rapidly between 7/8 and 5/8 with rapid shifts of mode across an implied harmonic pedal point. A fairly common pattern I notice in his cyclical works is that he will reprise material from his slow middle movements in abridge of rhythmically diminished form in his finales, usually rondo forms.

He is also fond of special effects, especially smacking and breath-tones on the flute. He also likes to employ what are at first counterintuitive timbrel combinations such as having the flute play in its weakest, least resonant lower octave while the guitar provides accompaniment using natural harmonics alone through much of the slow movement in his Sonatine.

You can get his CD at the awesome The website is based over in Europe and is written in no less than six languages so you won't have trouble finding a format that works for you as long as you speak one of the major European languages or English. Their order process is pretty straightforward and their staff have been very helpful to me in fielding order problems and keeping me up to date about back-ordered items.

Perhaps I should do a whole separate plug for them! I have found a number of scores through them that aren't available through usual American resources. So having given my general plug for Mr Ourkouzounov's cool guitar music let's see what else I can get to. I still plan to include some score analysis once in a while and if I'm oging to do that I might as well give you resources to find the scores I'm talking about.


Anonymous said...

Ourkouzounov is one of the most important guitar composers today!

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I think he definitely is, though it's really unfortunate how few people seem familiar with his work in the United States. I can't even cobble together the chops to play his pieces myself yet but I'd like to. The trick would be finding a flutist who wasn't scared off by the Sonatine's breakneck speed and changing meters. :)