Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares

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Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares
Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (UK album).jpg
4AD reissue cover
Studio album by
Released1975 (1975)
GenreBulgarian folk music
LabelDisques Cellier
CompilerMarcel Cellier
USA release (1987)
Nonesuch Cover (1987)
Nonesuch Cover (1987)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars link

Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (translated as "The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices") is a compilation album of modern arrangements of Bulgarian folk songs featuring, among others,[1] the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, with soloists Yanka Rupkina, Kalinka Valcheva and Stefka Sabotinova; and the Filip Kutev Ensemble.[2]

The album was the result of fifteen years of work by Swiss ethnomusicologist and producer Marcel Cellier and was released in 1975 on his small Disques Cellier label. Some of the recordings he made himself; others were taken from the archives of Radio Sofia.[2] The album won a Grand Prix du Disque award.[2]

In the 1980s, Ivo Watts-Russell (founder of the British 4AD label) was introduced to the choir from a third or fourth generation audio cassette lent to him by Peter Murphy, singer from the band Bauhaus. He became thoroughly entranced by the music, and tracked down and licensed the recordings from Cellier.[3] It was re-released in 1986 by 4AD in the UK, by the Nonesuch label in the US in 1987, and appeared on the Philips label in other territories.

Subsequent albums were released with similar titles: Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume 2 [1988], which won a Grammy Award in 1989;[4] Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume 3 [1990]; and Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume 4 [1998].

NPR ranked Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume 1 the 78th greatest album ever made by women.[5]

Reception, influence and legacy[edit]

The music has been acclaimed by various artists such as Paul Simon, Kate Bush, George Harrison, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Peter Murphy (of Bauhaus), Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins), Bobby McFerrin, Medwyn Goodall, Enrique Morente, the Grateful Dead, Robert Plant and has prompted worldwide interest.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

The American artist Linda Ronstadt stated that the music was "some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard".[12]

The British-American musician Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) declared after listening to the album: "Every musician who considers himself accomplished should listen to (this group’s album) and rethink everything he knows (about singing)."[12]

Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead: "They're like angels... exceptionally pure, really polished. Our song Uncle John's Band was inspired by the village music of Bulgaria."[13]

Dead Can Dance's singer Lisa Gerrard was so inspired by this album, she declared: "If anybody is changed by this, it’s me..."[14]

The soundtrack for Ghost in the Shell was inspired by the music of the Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices.[15]

It was ranked #10 in Spin's list of "The 35 Best Albums of the Last 35 Years".[16]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Pilentse Pee" (Пиленце пее) [Birdie Sings] – 2:31
  2. "Svatba" (Сватба) [The Wedding Procession] – 1:27
  3. "Kalimankou Denkou" (Калиманко Денко) [The Evening Gathering] solo: Yanka Rupkina – 5:06
  4. "Strati Na Angelaki Dumashe" (Страти на Ангелаки думаше) [Haiduk Song] – 2:37
  5. "Polegnala E Pshenitsa" (Полегнала е пшеница) [Harvest Song from Thrace] – 2:02
  6. "Mesechinko Lyo Greïlivka" (Месечинко льо грейливка) [Love Song from the Rhodopes] – 2:31
  7. "Breï Ivane" (Брей Иване) [Dancing Song] – 1:31
  8. "Ergen Deda" (Ерген дядо) [Diaphonic Chant] – 2:50
  9. "Sableyalo Mi Agontse" (Заблеяло ми агънце) [The Bleating Lamb] solo: Kalinka Valcheva – 4:31
  10. "Prituritse Planinata" (Притури се планината) [Song from the Thracian Plain] with orchestra – 2:45
  11. "Mir Stanke le" (Мир Станке ле) [Harvest Song from Thrace] solo: Stefka Sabotinova – 3:10
  12. "Schopska Pesen" (Шопска песен) [Song of Shopsko] – 1:27
  13. "Polegnala E Todora" (Полегнала е Тодора) [Love Song] – 3:38


  1. ^ Burton, Kim (November–December 2010). "Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares" (PDF). Songlines. pp. 66–67. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Buchanan, Donna A. (2006). Performing democracy : Bulgarian music and musicians in transition. Chicago, Ill. [u.a.]: Univ. of Chicago Press. p. 346. ISBN 9780226078267.
  3. ^ Troughton, Richie (1 December 2011). "4AD Founder Ivo Watts-Russell On Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares". The Quietus. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Past Winners". Grammy.com. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 21 July 2014.
  5. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (24 July 2017). "Turning The Tables: The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women, No.78". NPR. p. 8.
  6. ^ Robin Denselow (June 6, 2019). "We fell like cosmic rain': how the Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices became global stars". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  7. ^ "The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices - Biography". Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  8. ^ Neil Johnson (June 6, 2018). "The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices featuring Lisa Gerrard". WithGuitars. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  9. ^ "New single from the legendary choir The Mystery Of the Bulgarian voices". Concertzender. December 11, 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  10. ^ Len Righi (March 31, 1991). "Bulgarian Singers Bringing Black Sea Magic To Broughal". The Morning Call. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  11. ^ Richie Troughton (December 1, 2011). "4AD Founder Ivo Watts-Russell On Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares". TheQuietus.com. The Quietus.
  12. ^ a b Robert Hilburn (November 19, 1988). "It's Still the Universal Language : Bulgarian State Radio and Television Choir". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  13. ^ "The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Unveils Its 2007-2008 Season". iBerkshires.com. August 8, 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  14. ^ Jim Farber (May 28, 2018). "An Unlikely Union Between an '80s Rock Star and a Folk Choir Blossoms in Bulgaria". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  15. ^ "The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices". Viavox Production. Viavox Production. Retrieved 9 July 2020. A Swiss ethnomusicologist who traveled to Eastern Europe at the time of the Cold War, Marcel Cellier, was the first to record them, and to publish an album on his own label in 1975. But it’s about ten year later that the choir reached global success, when the English label 4AD released the record produced by Marcel Cellier. The musicians recognize and love to get lost. Kate Bush, Gorillas or the Cocteau Twins are swooning. U2, Drake or last year Ibeyi samplent. The music of the Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices has also inspired the Ghost In The Shell soundtrack, among many others.
  16. ^ Spin Staff (December 6, 2020). "The 35 Best Albums of the Last 35 Years". Spin. Spin. Retrieved 21 December 2020.

External links[edit]