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Alexander Balanescu pays homage to Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase -
reviewed by

'... exquisitely accomplished.'

Maria T - Chamber music by Alexander Balanescu. The Balanescu Quartet. © 2005 Mute Records

In 1969, in order to escape Nicolae Ceausescu's despotic regime, the Balanescu family fled to Israel. The youthful Romanian violinist (and viola player), Alexander Balanescu, subsequently studied in London and at Julliard. Later, back in Britain, he joined the Arditti Quartet. Eventually however, Alexander decided the majority of Arditti's repertoire simply targeted fellow composers and critics. Consequently he's branched out as both composer and violinist, endeavouring to bridge the gap between classical and popular music. Highlights of these years have included his collaborations with Kate Bush, the Pet Shop Boys, Spiritualized, Michael Nyman and David Byrne.

In this, his fourth release for Mute, Balanescu turns his attention to his homeland, complementing and incorporating the music of revered Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase (1913-1963).

Like both French chanteuse Edith Piaf and Portugal's 'fado' songstress, Amalia Rodrigues, the Romanian artiste epitomized her homeland. She distinguished herself as a theater and film actress, as an operetta singer and a music hall star. But it's principally as an interpreter of Romanian folk songs that her legacy lives on.

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Copyright © 25 September 2005 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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