Ion Farcas

Romania: Fluiere

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Unless one happened to be living in Romania, it would most likely be very difficult to sample enough examples of this type of music to determine what constitutes the absolute best possible performance of a particular genre. This is certainly a masterful set of performances by any standards of musical judgment, involving a soloist who is fluent on a variety of traditional wooden flutes, accompanied by an orchestra that plays with a polish that would make the most fussy visiting conductor crack a smile. Some selections involve melodies that are traded back and forth between soloist Ion Fargas and various members of the string section. It is thrilling playing, racing through attractive modal melodies or slowing down for haunting rubato passages, all hopefully with a bit more of an authentic edge then the windswept pseudo-gypsy flute music that is advertised on late-night television commercials. Sometimes, however, it is hard to tell. This could be the equivalent of Romanian kitsch, and the anarchistic Romanian students who passed it along to eager foreign record hunters didn't seem any too distressed to be getting it out of their record pile. One thing that would definitely set it apart, at least on the visual level, would be the el cheapo packaging, because the development of incredibly weak, shoddy cardboard products was some kind of an art form in the former Eastern bloc. Farcas poses on the front in traditional garb with his various instruments, some of which are long enough to take out someone's eye at 10 feet away. A Texan might say he is loaded for bear, although the lovely sound of these flutes is a far cry from the clanking bells or clattering tin cans one might use to scare off such a critter. In addition, Farcas is also heard soloing on ocarina on the gorgeous "Doina Si Joc." This is timeless music, and will appeal to fans of world music or klezmer.

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