BalkaNova – Heart Beats – Featuring Stoyan Yankoulov Bos Rec 228-12

“… Bulgaria determines the culture, which the sympathetic 7string acoustician and music activist, Andreas Brunn, has embraced in his gentle struggle against, for the most, national and cultural boundaries.

In 2010, Brunn and the outstanding saxophonist Vladimir Karparov, who brings an important regional dimension to the music, released “East Side Story”. But this was, indeed, much more than just an east side story because the other part, the silence, always half resonated in their wordless message.

Now there are words – a voice – the voice of Victoria Lasaroff, the incredible soprano (also on accordion and percussion), who has now taken a firm part in BalkaNova. Furthermore, Horst Nonnenmacher plays the bass, and in six of the ten pieces of music, the Trio is very effectively reinforced by the drummer / percussionist Stoyan Yankoulov.

The effect is astonishing: the genre-borders are transcended and if, at the beginning, the influence of Folk music and Balkan Jazz can highly be felt (mainly because of Brunn’s guitar, playing between jazzy lines, and astonishing, often mysterious-sounding, rhythms and meters) it appears progressively clearer that the musicians are enfranchising themselves from those, creating, as such, a new music genre proper to them. “Hey, dear friend, sing a song, do not forget me” concludes one of the songs. No worries: Balkanova is not something one can easily forget…”

© Alexander Schmitz



BalkaNova “Heart Beats” – Bosrecords

Balkan sound brings one to the Central European cities with freqeunt brass and wild Folkpogo, and at best, Gypsy swing and Klezmer music. It is not a widespread secret that Balkan music can be time and time again surprisingly good.

What the band Balka Nova produce with their CD “Heart Beats” is certainly unusual for the rich and brimming market of Balkan music. Balka Nova play Jazz and do so in a very sensitive manner. The pool where the four musicians and the Bulgarian singer, Viktoria Lasaroff, draw their inspiration from consists mainly of Bulgarian folk songs. Folk songs of which the singer is particularly well-versed.

Guitarist, Andreas Brunn, and bassist, Horst Nonnenmacher, dress those folk songs with a jazzy vesture, which is in turn painted in world music by the Bulgarian percussionist, Stoyan Yankoulov. Folkloristic chamber music at its best.

© Karsten Rube


CD-Review: FOLKER – German World Music Magazine 

BALKANOVA Heart Beats (Bosrecords 228-12/JARO Medien)

Guitar-accented Balkan Folkjazz. Traditional folksong and dance coming from the tumultous Balkan history are adjusted for guitar, standup bass, and voice, presented in a modern way. With the participation of the star in percussions and drums, Stoyan Yankoulov … Superbly played, fit for celebration and festival.


Balkan melody and jazz abducted in an other world

BalkaNova presented a checkered mix of Bulgarian folklore and jazz – enthusiastic reactions !

“ … Bulgarian melody and jazz are well matched. The foundations for BalkaNova are Bulgarian folksongs. The bilingual singer Viktoria Lasaroff, who was born in Bulgaria and has grown in Germany, sings these songs in the original language. All songs were newly arranged by the band and provided with different rhythms and checkered harmonies.

Within this basic framework, the musicians brought with them many outstanding ideas. Nonnenmacher played in a song again at higher position. His playing and Lasaroff’s voice together sounded like the harmonies of a duo. … The irresistible, often highly emotional original melodies won the musician many sides, and could plunge the audience into a different world. Andreas Brunn and Horst Nonnenmacher also put in a fabulous duo with a Brunn composition. … ”

(Oberhessische Zeitung – Martin G. Günkel)


Nouvelle cuisine of folk – Her hair as black as coal, her voice as deep as the belonging mine: Viktoria Lasaroff and her trio arranged refined and sophisticated music variations: A novella cuisine of folk which made real fans out of the audience in Southern Bavarian Dießen. The team consisting of guitar (Andreas Brunn) and contrabass (Jonathan Robinson) launched to a slow and relaxed, but extraordinary distinct melody. The three well-rehearsed musicians carried out very accurate changes of rhythm that one could consistently suppose drums in the room, also in the following songs.

With the captivating intonation of an oriental story-teller Viktoria Lasaroff summarized her lyrics in German. Soft and with a lot of vowels she unfolded the melody. Then, in a gipsy-song which is known all over the Balkans, she stood down her microphone and repeated the strophe with the strength and the emotion of an opera diva that is full of grief: A successful surprise. The returning to the low, deep murmuring singing seemed to make one lose track of time. Also the guitar of Andreas Brunn left behind the regions of folk sometimes and faded into jazz variations. However, those have been interlaced very sensitive so that the coherence of this world music was preserved all the time. (Augsburger Allgemeine, Andreas Frey)


Emotional Moments – The show-stopper of “BalkaNova” is that they present old folk songs but that they internationalize them stylistically. Out of the old folk songs they create great world music with two layers. On the one hand Andreas Brunn and the contrabassist Horst Nonnenmacher create the jazzy background for the vocals. On the other hand Viktoria Lasaroffs singing is competent, versatile and international. For this reason the band shows that their Balkan music is not comparable to folklore and the common clichés.

Immersed in enormous rhythmic melodies, Andreas Brunn plays precisely and always with maximum feeling. The contrabassist Horst Nonnenmacher interpreted his contrabass-part mainly jazzy which intensified the typical world music sound. The idea to mix musical styles of different continents works without any down sides. That gives the music its original and peculiar drive which makes the trio to something unique in the scene. It becomes clear that Viktoria Lasaroff is the center of the band. Living this music her whole life, the Bulgarian singer has a voice with a wide span that turns folk songs into art. Furthermore it is remarkable that she renarrates the lyrics in German. She tells stories about love, heartache and betrayal. To sum it up it was a wonderful evening. (Die Rheinpfalz, Jürgen Nordmann)


“South-East European impressions: Guitarist Andreas Brunn formed this Balkan project after hearing and meeting Viktoria Lasaroff, a bulgarian singer of great talent. Viktoria Lasaroff represented an important part of the performance – thanks to her strong, dark voice and the intenseness of her singing. She appeared less acerb gypsy woman and more the strong feminine personification of her native land Bulgaria.

The gentlemen on her side handled themselves with sovereignty through the polyrhythmic repertoire, exclaiming in virtuosic jazzy highlights. Conclusion: a well-rounded ensemble program whose development is eagerly awaited.” (Thüringer Landeszeitung, Fred Böhme)