qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Promming, but not at the Proms

Yesterday kharin and I took the opportunity to go and see Taraf de Haïdouks performing at the Cheltenham Festival. I first came across this band on a Kronos Quartet CD, where they featured on a single track, but since then I've also got the Maškaradă CD, on which they present their interpretation of some classical composers' interpretation of Central and Eastern European gypsy/folk music.

It was interesting to observe that the concertgoers' etiquette was quite different from that at the Royal Albert Hall. Whether this was due to the "world music" spin put on the concert, or due to its provincial location, I am unsure. In any event the rush into the hall was for the seats and tables around the edges, so kharin and I felt quite at home sitting and later standing in the front row.

The proceedings began with some remarkable a capella singing from the London Bulgarian Choir, with a variety of generally hi-energy and often bawdy numbers from Bulgaria and Macedonia.

"Organised chaos" doesn't quite do justice as a description of Taraf de Haïdouks; perhaps "controlled anarchy" comes closer. Older members of the band were dressed in Ceauşescu-era suits; the young ones in conspicuously Western designer labels. One of the singers bore a distinct resemblance to Albert Steptoe, and another didn't appear to have any teeth. But there's no doubting they had the incontrovertably toe-tapping music deep in their veins and at their fingertips. Several of the numbers were from Maškaradă, others presumably from their other albums. Most of the instruments were familiar, and it was particularly interesting to see the Cimbalom at close hand.
Tags: music
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