"Willing to Live" from Hristo Vitchev Quartet's "Familiar Fields"

One moving song from one inspiring album

Travis Rogers

There are times when I hear recordings that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. One such album was my pleasure to review in March of 2013. It was by Hristo Vitchev Quartet and was entitled “Familiar Fields.”

The CD is loaded with music that goes from brilliance to brilliance and it is an album that leaves the listener changed forever. Music can do that and we are fortunate indeed when we feel it as it is happening. For me, I knew it from the opening notes of this album.

“Willing to Live” is the final track of that splendid album. I’m sure that in time I will revisit all of the songs from “Familiar Fields.” At the moment, however, I have this song in repeat mode on my player and it bears some small discussion.

The song begins with Weber Iago’s lovely and delicate piano prelude. It sounds almost like a lullaby and it is fittingly so. Hristo tells in the liner notes that the piece was written in dedication to his grandmother Donka Krasteva “for her never endless desire to keep fighting and living.” But it is not the sound and movement of struggle that we hear; it is the joyful fulfillment and attachment of life lived well and lovingly.

The sweet chord progressions of the piano give way to Hristo’s intricate guitar work as Mike Shannon turns in beautiful brushwork on the drums. Dan Robbins’ bass is soulful and sounds like the low drive of a strong heart.

Weber’s piano returns in runs and is followed by Hristo’s own guitar runs. This is the sound of moving forward against all odds and obstacles—not aggressively but assuredly. This moves to a rocking chair imagery that is heart-warming without being maudlin. Instead, one gets the feeling of deep memory and gratitude.

As my wife and I listen to the piece again and again, we find ourselves wishing for this same strength as we move forward in our lives. We think of my wife’s dear mother who was so willing to live for her children even after the long-ago loss of her beloved husband. She was willing to live through every disappointment and heartache right up until her energy was spent. She left us willing to live for her legacy and memory and love. We do not wish to fail her.

And so ends the song, with fading cymbal and piano… the heartbeat bass fading out last. There is nothing tragic or anguished in “Willing to Live.” Rather, it is an anthem-lullaby of gently carrying on.

For love's sake, we all remain "Willing to Live."

Get "Familiar Fields" here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hristovitchevquartet

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Travis Rogers