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OURKOUZOUNOV : Balkan Variations : Doberman – Yppan


Doberman – Yppan : 12 pages

Atanas Ourkouzounov is a well –established Bulgarian composer of contemporary styled guitar music and has many pieces under his belt, with also many performance s from multiple performers. Having said that his work is definitely not for the faint – hearted as his musical style is uncompromising in its modernity, and any interested players should take care by listening to his works’ performances on YouTube, to name but one place where you can find him, before deciding.

So this latest work consists of a Theme, five variations and a finale all based on a Balkan theme, marked here, Rubato Melancolico. It is 13 bars long and however moves between 3 /4, 4/4, 5/4, and 10/8 in its short span. The theme begins in the lower regions, topped by some unusual chords that rely on clashing harmonies for their effect. Their placings on the guitar mean that this is already far from easy, especially when later on it moves into two voices full of cross – rhythms.

Variation 1 then enters, marked Giocoso, an 11/8 piece, in two voices with many accidentals, and a speedy pace of 150 crotchets a minute. There are also a number of glissando fourths that crop up in several places and a few places where the writing goes past fret 12 in one voice.

Variation 2 is a Canto, where the speed drops significantly to 96 beats a minute and becomes a two – voiced 7/8, ending on an unusual chord of a top D (harmonic) underpinned by a G, E natural, and F# and an Eb.

Variation 3, is marked Rubato e Delicato and is an even slower 50 beats a minute, starting in 2/4, but with each bar having a quintuplet of quavers , each bar marked l.v. sempre, before moving onto occasional 5/8 bars, with a couple od 5/16s there too.

Variation No4 takes the piece much faster at 160 beats a minute, marked Vivo, where the two voices throughout, dance all over the fingerboard in some very tricky passages before moving onto Variation 5,, a heavy footed Pesante in 2/4 time, but again relying on multiple clashes of minor seconds, to name but one interval that is frequently used here and often moving well into the top regions of the guitar often in four note chords, or some difficulty.

The Finale, is short and marked Lamentoso, quasi Recitativo travelling at only 40 crotchets a minute, again in multiple time signatures and two contrasting voices before closing on a discord of a D , topped by a harmonic C#

Nothing here is easy to play. It is extremely complex, and unremitting in its modern sound – world, but as this man has so many followers who look forward to seeing more of his very unique styled pieces, then this one is one for them to consider.

Chris Dumigan

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