Balanescu Quartet Maria T

Although composer Alexander Balanescu and his quartet may have touched on his Eastern European roots on earlier albums like Luminitza, here he wholeheartedly embraces it through a personal tribute to Romanian singer Maria Tanase. A wholly original singer with a deep, foreboding voice, Tanase was quite the star in Romania before the war, and Balanescu brings forth her music through original compositions and also by adding the singer herself into certain songs. The opening "Spotdance” provides lush strings and atmosphere, and "The Young Conscript and the Moon” reminds of John Corigliano’s Gypsy-inspired music from The Red Violin. But, the music truly achieves its purpose on "Mountain Call” and "Wine’s So Good,” which prominently feature Tanase’s voice. With "Mountain Call,” Balanescu uses Tanase’s wordless notes to flourish his own luxuriant strings, formlessly combining the two and truly bringing Tanase back to life. For a more straightforward combination, "Wine’s So Good” also includes Tanase’s Romanian vocals with the inclusion of Balanescu’s solo work and is probably the most fleshed out statement of Balanescu’s intent. While his own Tanase-less songs are rife with atmosphere, Balanescu truly makes Maria T special when it seems he and Tanase are seamlessly and magically trading notes across time. (Mute)