An album on which the gates to musical diversity are being opened wide: the violist and singer JELENA POPRŽAN shows on her solo debut “La Folia” (Lotus Records) in a stirring way what kind of extraordinary things can come about once one breaks away from all classical musical concepts.

Well, connoisseurs of the Austrian world music and jazz scene don’t really need to be introduced to Jelena Popržan anymore. The musician who comes from Serbia and has lived in Vienna for many years, was part of the successful duo Catch-Pop String-Strong, is a member of the no less successful band Madame Baheux and is also involved in the world music trio Sormeh and many other ensembles.

Album cover "La Folia"
Album cover “La Folia”

What distinguishes the charismatic violist and vocalist and what she is known for is her immense musical openness paired with a good portion of artistic individuality and joy of experimentation. There are probably only a few female musicians to which the sentence “She does what she wants” applies as much as it does to her. And this also shows on “La Folia”, her solo debut, in a truly breathtaking way.

The combination of most diverse musical worlds

When you listen to her tracks, it is almost as if you were in the pulsating centre of the combination of most diverse musical worlds. Folk from different regions, Viennese song, singer-songwriting, influences from classical music, chamber music and jazz, all this can be found in the artist’s music in some form or another. As if that were not enough, Jelena Popržan sings in German, English, French and Serbian, which makes the whole thing even more varied.

Each piece tells a different story, sometimes this happens close to tradition, sometimes in a modern musical language. The range of moods that the viola player spans with her feeling for gripping melodies is a large one, from quiet, gentle and dignified moments to swinging, dancing passages and highly dramatic explosions. In between it always gets a bit weird or experimental.

“La Folia” is a fascinating look beyond the customs of musical creation, an artistic and eventful journey through the most diverse musical environments. Jelena Popržan delivers a piece of music that is wonderfully captivating and knows how to entertain with style.

Michael Ternai

Translated from the German original by Julian Schoenfeld

Jelena Popržan – “La Folia” live:
18.02. Porgy & Bess, Vienna (album presentation)
27.03. Club dairy, Pressbaum

Jelena Popržan
Jelena Popržan (Facebook)
Lotus Records