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Taraf de Haidouks - Maskarada

(Crammed Discs - 2007)
Ostinato & Romanian Dance
Danza ritual del fuego
Waltz from masquerade
In a Persian market
De cînd ma aflat multimea
Romanian folk dances
The missing dance
Parca eu te-am vazut
Hora moldovenesca
Les portes de la nuit
Suita maskarada
bonus édition française :
Dehors, les ténèbres
Azi e nor - i senin

«Maskarada» is Taraf de Haidouks’ fifth album. This album is a new one not only because it offers new tracks but also because Taraf de Haidouks diversified on the music and technical sides.

Taraf de Haidouks is a Romanian group. The 12 members come from the same village from the Valachia area. For them music is more than a tradition. Music is essential. In Romania and more particularly in Valachia, everybody plays music, fathers and sons. They play folk songs and popular melodies which we usually call gypsy music. The word «haidouk» means bandit and refers to many melodies. Taraf de Haidouks represents this tradition even in its name. Music is essential because it carries resistance, pride and the survival of a culture which part of the Romanians still despise. The previous four albums represented very well this tradition.

«Maskarada» is a turn. For the tracks of this new album are mostly based on classical compositions (8 out of 14). But what’s got into them?

Taraf de Haidouks wanted to make people realise that classical composers mainly got inspired by popular songs and traditions which they translated into another musical language; that classical music is popular; that classical music and gypsy music meet and are close whatever people who despise gypsy music may think. The group also shows that classical music remains very contemporary.

The selected composers are classical European composers from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century to change of the very famous Hungarian compositions. Bela Bartok who is revisited in the tracks «Ostinato & Romanian Dance» and «Romanian folk dances» is a Hungarian composer and pianist. He travelled across Hungary and Romania where he got influenced by popular melodies and songs which he adapted into a classical style for a string quartet.

Aram Khachaturian is a Georgian composer. We find his work here in the tracks «Lezghinka» and «Waltz». It initially includes violin, cello, flute and piano concertos. Aram Khachaturian also wrote film scores including the one of the adaptation of Russian writer Lermontov’s «Mascarade». His major influence was Armenian folk music.

Manuel de Falla is a Spanish composer and pianist. The track «Danza ritual del fuego» was originally composed in 1915. It tells how Cardela is harassed by a ghost. She manages to turn the ghost’s attention away from her and break the evil spell. Like Bartok and Khachaturian, his work is full of Spanish folk pieces and tales.

Albert Ketelbey is a British composer and conductor. «In a Persian market» is of one his most famous works.

Isaac Albeniz is a Spanish pianist and composer and is famous for his works inspired by the Spanish popular culture. The piece «Suite espagnole» is very famous.

Joseph Kosma is a French composer. Bartok was his master. His work consists mainly in film scores including «Les portes de la nuit». This film directed by Marcel Carne tells a worker’s fate in Paris during WW2.

The 6 remaining tracks are original compositions by Taraf de Haidouks. They are traditional pieces: «Da cind ma aflat multimea», «The missing dance», «Parca eu te-am vazut», «Hora Moldovenesca», «Parlapapup» and «Suita Maskarada». Additionally there are two more tracks (original compositions) on the French release. My goodness! What have the French got more than people from the rest of the world? Well Taraf de Haidouks is mostly a French speaking and Francophile group, they love France and French people love them back! Besides their label is in the French speaking part of Belgium. So come on y’all! You know what you have to do to get the same special treatment...

And last but not least, for the first time Taraf de Haidouks worked from scores. It is a great change as none of the members can read scores since their musical culture is only oral. We can hear a flute, 4 violins, 3 accordions, a clarinet, 2 cymbalums and a double bass.

This album is very lively. But you should see them on stage; their energy is so infectious...

16 February 2008

Anne Littardi

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