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CD Šťastné a Nebeské… Carols from under Rozsutec is a musical and visual experience

Written by on October 10, 2022

The 4th album of the band Nebeská muzika entitled Šťastné a Nebeské… (Happy and Heavenly…) was created in the spirit of a line from a traditional Bethlehem play. You can listen to musical gems “mined” from the Orava and Terchov side of the legendary mountain range of Malá Fatra (Slovakia). Imaginative arrangements in the style of world music with rich folk instrumentation capture the local cultural tradition from Advent to Three Kings Day. This musical gift from the land of the highwayman Jánošík is wrapped in a sumptuous hand-illustrated bilingual booklet, offering a surprising artistic look “inside”.

Perhaps it is a sign that, in the more than 20-year history of the band Nebeská muzika from the village of Terchová, a Christmas album was created in the critical COVID years of 2020-21. The band used the involuntary silencing of the world for a deeper perception of the topic and brought 14, mostly lesser-known, songs from local sources into the light. Nine of these songs have their home in the Oravan village of Zázrivá, where the source was the repertoire of the singer Mária Pagerková (1924-2006) and the collection Slovenské koledy (Slovak Carols). In Terchová, the inspiration was the legendary Manger Devotion (from 1975) and the handwritten Bethlehem Book by Anton Valla (1931-1998).

In the first part, the dramaturgy follows the chronological link of the songs from Advent to Three Kings Day. In the second part, the choice of material covers secular carols with motifs of prosperity wishes, spiritual songs, and also a pastoral folk element in contrast to the European Baroque phenomenon of creating Christmas pastorales. The third part consists of compositional allusions to well-known personalities or contemporary works with which the band has come into lively contact. Vladimír Moravčík (11 songs) and Andrej Dostál (2 songs) are the arrangers of the CD.

A separate layer is the hand-illustrated gift wrapping of the CD created by the artist Ľudmila Szybková, with atypical cut-outs offering a glimpse into the depth of the work. The visual experience is enhanced by the ornaments of the Zázrivá folk fur coat, the iconic silhouette of the Veľký and Malý Rozsutec mountains, as well as the use of facsimiles from the manuscript. The proverbial graphical cherry on top is the symbol of the 14-pointed star, which in the Temple of the Nativity in Bethlehem has marked the birthplace of Jesus Christ since 339, and also represents the number of generations from Adam to Jesus, and in this case the 14 songs of the album. The communication potential is enhanced by the translation of all the song lyrics into English.

The CD of the band Nebeská muzika entitled Šťastné a Nebeské… (Happy and Heavenly…) was released by the renowned Hevhetia label at the end of 2021 but, due to many pandemic complications and because of its subject matter, it will enter the music market in 2022. The release of the album was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, the Art Support Fund, the Slovak Authors’ Protection Association and the Music Fund.

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