Monday, September 3, 2007

In Review--Violins Ablaze! Transkapela

Klezmer Carpathian Music
Arc Music

Oddly enough, a few days after I received Transkapela's recording, Klezmer Carpathian Music in the mail, I heard another Carpathian folk group, (Carpathian Folk Quartet), featured on a community radio show. Prior to visiting Arc Music's site and checking out their new releases, I had never heard of Carpathian folk or otherwise. Yet, this music which can be described as bright, warm, and a frolic in the snows of the Carpathian mountains, threatens to lift any dark mood. Try it!

Transkapela plays mainly Eastern European Jewish klezmer music spiced with some wild gypsy punch. Ewa Wasilewska handles violin duties, and in her hands, that violin sets this thundering music ablaze. Maciej Filipczuk plays violin and trumpet fiddle (see the photo in the liner notes), Piotre Pniewski switches between cello and drum, and you can hear Robert Wasilewski's cimbalom (hammered dulcimer), shimmering throughout the recording. He also plays viola, kaval, tilinka and gordon.

This punchy music reminds me of the French gypsy swing-klezmer group, Les Yeux Noirs who also delves into Eastern European musical territory. This entire recording puts listeners in a celebratory mood. No matter where you are or what you are doing when you hear the songs floating off of this disc, you're going to want to kick up your heels. It also reminds me of happy cartoon cat and mouse chases that I watched as a child. Maybe you could chase someone around the house when you listen to this music, but refrain from driving under its influence.

The quartet cites, "Our musical search revolves around the traditional music of various cultural regions: Malopolska, Galicia (East Europe), Bukovina, Hucul Region, Maramures, Transylvania, where despite the outer formal distinctions, we try to seek its roots, common elements, and the timeless values." That rules out cartoons produced in Hollywood…

The source music is an inspiration for our own interpretations and compositions." The source of their music features various ethnic groups, (Poles, Jews, Romanians, Ukrainians, Gypsies, Germans, and Hungarians). The religions represented in this part of the world include, Catholic, Orthodox, Middle Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Protestant, but besides all of those influences, the songs here sound like Eastern European wedding music. I can see the foot stomping, plates shattering, and food being passed around.

Certainly vibrant music with rapid fire passages, blazing violin, and shimmering hammered dulcimer is going to get bodies moving, and blood percolating, while sending the chilling news of daily events on its way. Feeling sad, feeling gloomy, feeling upset? Then take a listen to this music. And you can find it at Arc Music

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