The Seven Valleys (World Class – Valley Entertainment, 2006)
Stellamara is an intricate web of the combined talents of Sonja Drakulich, Gari Hegedus, Susu Pampanin, Tobias Roberson, Jaime Paulos and Beth Bahia Cohen. The Seven Valleys, the fruit of their combined efforts, is a kind of new agey tapestry of mystical trance, Middle East, Celtic, medieval chant sprinkled with Eastern European influences. Likened to the group Dead Can Dance, Stellamara offers a complex pleasure journey of voice and superior musicianship.
Borrowing lyrics and melodies of Bulgarian, Portuguese and Hungarian traditions, as well as a selection of their own compositions, The Seven Valleys is a ripe blend of the mysteries of East and West.
“Szerelem” is the opening track and dazzles with
Sonja Drakulich’s clear, sparkling voice that soars so high as to have its address in the stratosphere. Joined by Gari Hegedus on mandocello, Susu Pampanin on darbuka, ruqq and dahola, Tobias Robertson on tapan and daff, and Jaime Paulos on keyboards, the piece transport the listener.
Throughout the CD, Hegedus casts a wide with his mastery of the mandocello, oud, violin, viola, divan saz, baglama and cura, as well as a composer and arranger. Heavy with a Middle Eastern flavor, “Resulina,” “Baraka” and “Nida” enchant with entwined vocals and intricate compositions. Hegedus’s oud improvisation on “Kurdi Taksim” is worth the price alone. Stellamara picks up the tempo with “Firtina” then lulls with the luscious “Maliks.” With this group of musicians, none who play just one instrument but many, the CD sets a lavish musical setting, rich in color and quality.