Joanna Dimitrova mandolin    Evdokia Bobotsova mandolin

Nikolaj Petrov mandola    Slavcho Nikolov guitar

The mandolin quartet SEASONS was founded in 1996 by Assen Dimitrov (1913 - 2000), who was also the founder of the first mandolin orchestra in Bulgaria. In their performances the members of the quartet present the combined Bulgarian mandolin and guitar traditions acquired from maestro Assen Dimitrov and prof. Dimitar Doychinov and the latest European mandolin concepts acquired in the master classes of the well-known German professors Caterina Lichtenberg, Dieter Kreidler etc.  

In past years the quartet has performed works from known composers of various style periods. The new creative direction seen in their second CD is to enrich the repertoire with new music, composed especially for SEASONS. 

The quartet has participated in many national and international festivals of classical and contemporary music: the 35th, the 38th and the 40th International Festival of plectrum music in Logrono, Spain (2001; 2004; 2006); the 10th and 11th International Festival of Mandolin Music in Imotski, Croatia (2005; 2006); the 19th National Festival of Art "Apolonia" 2003, Bulgaria; "Sofia Summer Festival", Bulgaria (2001); the "Balkan Festival of Guitar Music", Bulgaria (2003; 2004; 2005; 2009) etc.   

The quartet SEASONS won the First Prize and Grand Prix in the 10th and 11th International Festival of Mandolin Music in Imotski, Croatia and the Third Prize of the 5th Contest for New Compositions, Logrono, Spain (2006).  

The quartet SEASONS has performed in Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Japan, Croatia, USA and other countries. 

The Bulgarian National TV created and broadcast two films of the quartet in 1999 and in 2007.  

In 2001 SEASONS quartet released its first CD, reviewed in the Journal of the Classical Mandolin Society of America. 

In 2009 the quartet released its second CD "A Story for the Balkan Mountains". The title work was composed by the Bulgarian composer Slavcho Nikolov (guitarist of the quartet) for duo mandolins. The latest CD was also reviewed in the Journal of the Classical Mandolin Society of America.

 

The others About Us

Тhe Mandolin Journal, Dec. 2009 
CD Review: "A Story About the Balkan Mountains"

The Mandolin Quartet Seasons

by Miles Kusik 

On my way out of the Dayton convention, I was handed a brown envelope and asked "Miles, could you review this for the Journal?" Inside, was a CD from the Bulgarian classical Mandolin Quartet Seasons. I read through the track list, and I thought the opening work was a strange selection for mandolin quartet - I was wrong. This quartet's arrangement of Isaac Albeniz's "Sevilla" was a perfect opening piece for what is the best programmed classical mandolin CD that I have ever heard.  

The range of musical genres flows beautifully from one to the next which allows oft repeated listening to this CD in its entirety. The performances on this recording are superb as is the musicianship and the recording quality is excellent. This is a European mandolin sound - bowlback instruments with light strings - and the tonal range of the mandolins runs from brilliant to ethereal while the sound of the guitar is dark, earthy, and profound. This beautifully engineered CD would certainly be in any collection that I took to a desert island.  

The second track provides the title for the CD, "A Story About the Balkan Mountains"  an original composition for two mandolins by the quartet's guitarist Slavcho Nikolov. I expect this work will become a standard in the repertoire for two mandolins; it is atmospheric and full of the ethnic color and irregular meter of Balkan music. I hope this piece is available soon as sheet music. The third track "Rumba" (also by Nikolov) opens with a lyrical passage for the mandolins followed by a driving rumba. This is followed by a stunning performance of the famous "Song of the Japanese Autumn" by Yasuo Kuwahara. Mandolin Quartet Seasons brings a haunting realization to this impressionistic work conjuring up visions of the Japanese country side. From the moody Japanese autumn the CD moves to a driving rendition of Raul Maldonado's "Danza"; light and fire following the Japanese autumn. 

The next track is Nikolov's   "La Colina Sola", after a dark and mysterious beginning it closes with a fiery ending and is a perfect counterpoint to Nikolov's  "Love Song". This piece incorporates musical elements one might hear in "New Age/Acoustic Rock" compositions to great effect. It could easily be used in a film score. "Three Miniatures" by Marin Goleminov, Bulgaria's most famous composer, are wonderful additions to the literature for mandolin quartet and have been transcribed here by Dimitar Doychinov. Longin Jakubowski's "Tendre Maman" ( Tender Mother) is a lovely sentimental piece that sounds as if it comes from the 1930's and leads to the final track "Por Una Cabeza" the famous tango by Carlos Gardel from 1935. 

It is a goal of the Mandolin Quartet Seasons to create new repertoire for mandolin quartets and they have added some wonderful literature. The recording captures the pure vibrant essence of a classical mandolin quartet performing contemporary literature without the highly processed sound that other groups have.  

While each of the tracks on this disk stands alone as a fine recording it is the program order that makes it a CD that I will listen to again and again. The only thing that I would do to improve this CD would be to add a few more seconds of silence between each track, but this is a problem typical of many recordings. I wholeheartedly recommend CD and hope to hear this group in concert. As the MJ goes to press, I have just learned that Elderly Instruments will soon be the sole source for this CD.

The Mandolin Journal is looking forward to interviewing "Seasons" in an upcoming edition 

 

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