The Wire - p.69
"It's a wild and unruly manifestation of chamber music, dominated by four violins and three accordions but with the traditional cymbalum lending its distinctively percussive skitter."
Dirty Linen - p.51
"It's a puzzle how White manages to convey depths and layers of meaning with such a spare and unembellished delivery..."
Taraf de Ha?douks: Illie Iorga, Marin P. Manole (vocals); Ion Tanase (cymbolom); Anghel Gheorghe, Robert Gheorghe, Paul Giuclea, Constantin Lautaru (violin); Gheorghe Falcaru (flute); Ionel Manole, Marin Manole (accordion); Filip Simeonov (clarinet); Viorel Vlad (double bass).
Additional personnel: Stela Dumitru (cymbolom); Sebastien Giniaux (cello).
You might expect a Balkan Gypsy dance band to do any number of things -- but tackle a classical program is probably not one of them. Still, the pieces that Taraf de Ha?douks have selected for this album are pretty logical when you think about it, and sound startlingly natural when you actually sit down and listen: Aram Khachaturian's "Lezghinka" sounds perfectly at home in this setting (cimbalon, accordion, clarinet, violins, etc.) and so -- surprisingly enough -- does Isaac Alb?niz's "Asturias." But best of all is the group's interpretation of B?la BartĘk's "Romanian Folk Dances," performed here in a style that the notoriously picky and tradition-minded BartĘk would surely have loved. The temptation is to regard a group like this as merely raucous and fun -- but listen closely and you'll notice a couple of things: first, they play impeccably in tune for a band that tends to play mostly for dances. Second, their arrangements are not just good-time approximations of classical melodies, but carefully orchestrated and virtuosically played settings of pieces that were quite complex to begin with. Whether you sit and listen to it with headphones on or turn up the stereo and reel around the living room with your sweetie, you'll be sure to enjoy this fascinating album. ~ Rick Anderson