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<<  -- 3 --  Howard Smith    MESMERIZING STUFF


Typically Balanescu sets out with hypnotic minimalist-style rhythmic figurations (e g 'Empty Space Dance' [listen -- track 3, 1:58-2:59]) and bittersweet melodic strings (e g 'The Young Conscript and the Moon' [listen -- track 2, 0:00-1:22]); eventually breaking into captivating Balkan idioms (e g 'Turning Wheels'). On four of these tracks Tanase's recorded folk lyrics convey a palpable aura of timelessness. My response to Balanescu's opening 'Spotdance' remains divided, yet the remainder of this 78-minute offering resonates with beguiling, often mystic moods -- alternately ethereal, joyful, and ardent.

In Balanescu's own words -- 'I use Maria Tanase's actual vocals, combined with live material; for the idea that we can meet somehow with the help of new technology -- is really exciting [listen -- track 10, 5:12-6:24]. The core of her art is the fatalistic Romanian folk philosophy (e g "Life and Death"), with its central idea of the transience of existence. Ultimately she passed on a message about the transcendence of daily suffering by ordinary people.'

Mesmerizing stuff -- exquisitely accomplished.

NB : I refolded the CD notes to replace Mute's ghoulish front cover.

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


Balanescu Quartet - Maria T

CDSTUMM242 Stereo NEW RELEASE 77'46" 2005 Mute Records Limited

The voice of Maria Tanase; Balanescu Quartet: Alexander Balanescu, violin and viola; James Shenton, violin; Andrew Parker, viola; Nicholas Holland, cello; with Steve Arguelles, percussion

Alexander Balanescu: Maria T. Part 1: Spotdance; The young conscript and the moon; Empty space dance; Turning wheels; Life and death; Part 2: Mountain call; Aria; Interlude; Lullaby; Wine's so good; Lullaby dream


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller