Panseluta Feraru - Lautar Songs from Bucharest
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Panseluta Feraru
Chants Lautar de Bucarest (Lautar Songs from Bucharest)
Long Distance

cd cover This reissue of a live recording by veteran Romanian singer Feraru shows her at the top of her game. She derives her repertoire from traditional lautar (literally, "lute") songs, more contemporary urban songs, cabaret songs, and wedding music. She refers to herself as a "restaurant singer," implying that the professionalism and varied repertoire required for the genre puts her a notch above traditional Gypsy singers. She has a light, lithe voice that shies away from emotional histrionics. Her ornamentation is flawless and filigreed, with unerring pitch and rhythm. At times she scats with all of the skill and aplomb of an Eastern European Ella. Her control in both fast, intricate passages and slow, mournful ones is so precise as to be eerie. On the lightning-fast "Azi e Nor Miine - I Senin (Today the Weather's Bad, Tomorrow It'll Be Fine)" she keens over the back-up musicians' quiet, intense playing. And those back-up musicians are all top-notch players. This traditional taraf has no guitar or electronic keyboards as in contemporary Romanian music.

Unfortunately, the cimbalom player's name was left off the credits; his technique is incredible and his introduction on "Izaura" is nothing short of exquisite. Feraru's husband Marian Gheorghe Stefan plays virtuoso clarinet. Accordion player Constantin Lacatus is also a standout. The latter two get to shine in some solo instrumental tracks. The music flies along at such a pace and Feraru's voice takes off on such flights of fancy that things could spin out of control in the hands of lesser musicians; the sheer centrifugal force of this group's technical skill and musicianship keeps it all in orbit. - Peggy Latkovich

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