Valeriu Cascaval
Cinq Planets - France (

Be wary of any CD with liner notes containing such hyperbolic praise of the artist: "....Valeriu Cascaval immediately established himself as the greatest cimbalist of his generation." Valeriu Cascaval is a Moldavian born cimbalom player with excellent technical facility, educated in the Soviet tradition; that is, a sort of generic Classical/Slavic folk hybrid. As such, he can hurl the hammers with the best of them, and negotiate swift passages with ease. But virtuosity does not equal artistry, and artistry is what one craves after listening to this CD. This is a pleasant enough release but it is far from a mature statement. The folk material is handled in a peculiarly bloodless manner, albeit with steely precision. Those pieces that reference the Romanian lautari may capture the gimpy meters we associate with Rom players, but they do not swing, and Cascaval's ode to his wife "Aliona" sounds like a Windham Hill track. The liner notes state that Cascaval was inspired to play cimbalom after hearing the late great Toni Iordache. With such an excellent standard to live up to, one hopes that Cascaval will continue to play and to deepen his approach so that he might one day be as good. He has the potential. - Michal Shapiro

Song © 1999 Cinq Planetes

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