Dagamba is a Latvian instrumental ensemble that merges classical and modern melodies, eastern and western sounds, as well as other disparate elements to create a unique fusion of music. Their sound, which includes cellos, piano, Persian instruments and drums can be at once steeped in classical traditions and then bursting with modern, popular sounds.
After their first efforts at combining popular songs with classical melodies on 2015’s Recycled (their second album after their debut – 2012’s New Life), the group has returned with their own interpretation of Baroque composer Vivaldi and perhaps his most famous composition – the series of concertos known as ‘The Four Seasons’. The resulting album – 2016’s Seasons – which also includes a few additional compositions – provides a new and fresh perspective on one of classical music’s greatest treasures.
Dagamba, founded in 2011, bring together cellists Valters Pūce and Antons Trocjuks, pianist Dainis Tenis, percussionist Hamidreza Rahbaralam (performing traditional instruments such as the daf, setar, and tambur), as well as a more recent addition – drummer Arturs Jermaks.
Though it is more a reimagining of Vivaldi’s work (created by Pūce and Tenis), rather than simply a new arrangement, it is still at once recognisable, containing Vivaldi’s familiar melodies in a new presentation. The foundation remains the cello and piano, however, the drums and traditional instruments give both an energetic flair and an exotic flavour to the music, particularly in “Summer Storm”, where an energetic, almost tense performance then leads to “Autumn”, displaying the full melancholic richness of the cello.
Credit goes to Dagamba for making this nearly 300 year old work as vital and lively as it was when it was first composed, and, were it not clear already, shows why Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is one of the most of the most popular compositions in history. The group provide a fine balance in their version of the work, ensuring that the music is still held in high reverence while still adding new elements and perspectives.
Beyond their version of Vivaldi’s opus, Seasons contains a few additional tracks in a similar fusion style. The song “Freddie”, which, as its title might indicate, contains elements of Queen, which are then merged with melodies by J. S. Bach. The track also features Latvian vocal ensemble Latvian Voices providing a haunting vocalise.
The group also prove adept at writing and performing entirely new material, as with the song “Escape”. Valters Pūce provided the music, and the song features guest vocalist (and lyricist) Aminata Savadogo, who has already made a name for herself in the Latvian music world with her memorable performance at Eurovision in 2015. On “Escape”, Aminata provides a similarly powerful vocal display.
Though the album is full of dynamic rock elements, it concludes with the subdued and tender “Postlude / Lascia Demons”, with original music by Pūce and Tenis synthesized with the music of Handel. After the turbulence of the previous tracks on the album, this provides a gentle and calming close, again modernising Baroque elements.
Dagamba once again show that music that is centuries old can be seamlessly integrated and fused with modern elements, making it both familiar and fresh. They continue these efforts on Seasons, with effective results. Providing a new take on the music of Vivaldi and other artists, Dagamba have created a compelling new interpretation of a timeless work, revealing and expressing elements which are just as relevant in today’s music world as they were centuries ago.
For further information, please visit the Dagamba website.
- Summer Storm
- Postlude / Lascia Demons