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L̕udová Hudbá 2

Tradana (
Review by Andrew Cronshaw


The launch concert of this album at Bratislava World Music Festival was the closing event and the highlight.

Pokošovci are a brilliant Romani family band, from the villages of Šumiac and Telgárt in the Horehronie region on the edge of the Low Tatras in central Slovakia.

The core line-up is the Pokoš brothers Miroslav, Radoslav and Stanislav and cousin Vladimir, on violin, viola, double bass and viola respectively, plus Július Markus on accordion. They’re a working band in a living tradition, playing at village events and with local folk-dance groups.

For this double CD of their choice of Slovak and Romani repertoire of the region they’re joined by singers including the brothers’ mother Viera and grandmother Irena, two of their daughters, and other local singers, including Nina Varšová and the women’s vocal group Trnki, chosen by the group’s primáš (first violin and leader) Miroslav.

CD1 consists of Horehronie’s rich Slovak and Romani repertoire, while CD2 focuses particularly on Romani songs, mostly sung by the group members themselves and mother Viera. They’re also joined as guest second violinist on the first disc by the very fine fiddler and ethnomusicologist Jana Ambrózová. Pavol Trnka is second violinist on CD2, where the skittering, rippling cimbalom of Milan Hronček also mainly features.


The first CD opens with the band’s strong masculine voices, lurching into a short fast instrumental. Then the very striking solo voice of Nina Varšová in the soaring, slow “Sad̕iu Šuhaj Tri Jedlovo Stromčoki”, with the full ensemble surging in to accompany her. Powerful group and solo voices alternate with big, yearning multi-fiddle-led instrumental accompaniments that spring into sparkling dance rhythms. In the middle there’s a substantial input from the female vocal group Trnki in typical Horehronie songs. Grandmother Irena’s spirited, characterful singing closes the first CD with two Romani songs.


CD2 begins with a swirling čardaš. Then, interspersed with more instrumentals, into Romani songs. Rubato or in cantering up-tempo, these have a character very distinct from the Slovak repertoire in mode, shape and style as well as language, with a characteristic luxuriant slow vibrato at the ends of phrases and similarities to Romani songs from some other parts of Europe, for example Finland. The most frequent lead voice on this disc, as throughout, is Miroslav’s commanding baritone, but mother Vieira leads five tracks magnificently, and the family resemblance is clear. - Andrew Cronshaw

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