Evelyn Petrova / Alexander Balanescu: Upside Down (2007)
Accordionist Evelyn Petrova's inaugural CD for this record label, Year's Cycle (2004), opened quite a few doors via invitations to numerous music festivals and more. With her Russian counterpart, violinist Alexander Balanescu, it would be going out on a very small limb to suggest that this duo's interplay signifies a genre-busting tour de force.
The album title intimates a musical approach that defies the norm. In effect, they effortlessly merge Russian-folk with jazz improvisation and the classical element, while venturing into a rather opaque, avant-garde realm. Sparked by the musicians' intuitive exchanges and world-class technical gifts, they manage to interject wit and whimsy into the grand proceedings.
Petrova comps with the propulsion of a power-drummer amid her partner's blazing staccato lines. On "Journey, they conjure up a mystical sojourn, partly enhanced by Petrova's wordless vocal chants. But they inject a worldly stance via intermittent segments containing Middle Eastern modal exercises and briskly engineered whirling-dervish like unison lines. All this capped off with frisky movements and precisely articulated time signatures. The duo also treks into the free jazz vicinity, yet occasionally tempers the variable flows with lighthearted jazz and chamber-esque motifs. Simply stated, hearing is believing.
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Track Listing: Upside Down; Journey; Shout; Hungry Wind; Torn Dress; Dream; Mouse Wedding.
Personnel: Evelyn Petrova: accordion, voice; Alexander Balanescu: violin, voice.