Energetic Katarina Livljanić and her Ensemble Dialogos (whose concert, presented in a simple theatrical mode, featured ancient epitaphs of Dalmatia and Herzegovina in which the dead speak to the living) (…). All had in common the absence of artifice, restoring to music the first and last word.
Ensemble Dialogos, directed by Katarina Livljanic, focuses on the musical past of the Balkans. However, the performance at the festival was not just about 'early music', as Livljanic emphasized in her introduction (…). In this programme most music was part of a still living tradition, handed down orally from one generation to the next. This music differs greatly from what we in Western Europe consider to be 'early music', both in terms of melody and harmony (…). Livljanic had quite rightly chosen a theatrical setting and that was precisely what made for an extremely fascinating experience, in which the lyrics and the events to which they refer came to life. The texts were projected on the wall; that was essential to understand what it was about. There is no need to talk about 'interpretation' here. In a way the source of the music was involved in the performance: the traditional chants were sung by Kantaduri, an ensemble that devotes itself to the musical traditions with which the singers partly grew up themselves.
As Atlas bearing the weight of the world, Milivoj Rilov's bass voice, whose typically Slavonic bell and drum offers an uncountable variations of harmonics, raises the Balkan voices of Josko Caleta, Nikola Damjanovic and Srecko Damjanovic to the summit, these voices born from the encounter between the finest subtleties of Oriental inflections, the depth of the Slavonic harmonics and the warm agility of the Mediterranean voices. Single female voice, Katarina Livljanic fully dedicates her prosodic chant to the incantatory emotion that she draws in the manuscripts of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Finally, Jure Milos sings - accompanied by the gusle - with this acute and guttural voice which evokes the vocal intensity so dear to the Ottoman tradition. One cannot help be struck by these heretical angels of Dialogos & Kantaduri who prodigiously [tend to] the keystone of the East and the West - the origins of the Balkan civilization - lost in the limbo of forgotten memory.
"….a transfixing meditation on mortality conceived by the singer-scholar Katarina Livljanic…In a dance of the living and the dead, [the music] therefore had to be recomposed, using medieval manuscripts and oral customs, for instruments including the rebec, the gusle and the dvojnice. The songs themselves are musically bracing, particularly when sung in ganga, an intensely dissonant multi-part style from the Dalmatian hinterland.. a ritual that alternated solo songs with choral interludes in a simple staging by Sanda Herzic that effectively used the chapel’s aisles and choir loft…. Ms. Livljanic’s pure voice had an incantatory power, not least in a chanted reading from the Book of Revelation, and there was an energy in Kantaduri’s singing..."
"The result is breathtaking. (...) The score, created on the basis of fragmentary musical notation and traditional music material, reveals a coherent approach and deep originality. Impressive in its sobriety, which exudes a chiaroscuro effect intensified by splendid lighting, the programme emphasizes the contrasts between men's and a woman's voice (…). An organic, more than cerebral mysticism, is illustrated in an Orthodox-like musical style, by the powerful voices of the Kantaduri singers, alternating rich polyphony and wild incantations. Between a dark male choir and a clear female voice, the dialogue develops with solemnity, humility and dignity."
"The magnitude of Heretical Angels is not an hour-long presentation of ancient languages, creeds, mantras and music. Its importance lies in the fact that medieval music specialist Katarina Livljanic, her "Dialogos" ensemble and the "Kantaduri" ensemble, have attempted - and very well succeeded - in bringing its audience to the beginnings of human time itself."
"Ms. Livljanic had produced an epic of magic and revelation. It was the great French philosopher Antonin Artaud who wrote so expressively about theater as magic–magic language, magic gestures, magic words and music from the earth. His example was Balinese theater, which itself predates both Hinduism and Islam. Ms. Livljanic has created a religion which is liturgically antediluvian. And those of us open to its ecstatic spell may have caught a shadowy glimpse of our own still-pulsing, Divine Breath."
Like all of Katarina Livljanic's projects, the programme "Heretical Angels" is not an ordinary early music concert, but a performance touching the audience's ears, eyes and souls through medieval texts. Voices meet and collide, harsh as rugged mountains, like wailing souls, torn between life and death, earth and sky, time and eternity. The "Dies irae” sequence, sung with an archaic Bosnian traditional melody, is spine-chilling. Everything is extraordinary in this programme. Katarina Livljanić, Dialogos, Joško Ćaleta, Jure Miloš and Kantaduri remind us of an archaic, original, tough and yet beautifully strong and moving world: it is driven by the music and language of high wisdom. These musicians awakened and moved many souls.