Gilles Apap

Gilles Apap and the Transylvanian Mountain Cowboys

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"World music" - if considered a collision of cultures - is nothing new. Composers like Haydn, Liszt, and Brahms incorporated gypsy airs into their music. Classical musicians displayed an appreciation for the music of other cultures long before Peter Gabriel and David Byrne came along. Gilles Apap and the Transylvanian Cowboys is a collection of both classical music written in a gypsy style and gypsy music written for classical instruments, all performed with a zest and wildness that defies most listeners expectations of "chamber music." The group consists of Frenchman Gilles Apap on violin, his brother Marc on viola, and Americans Chris Judge on acoustic guitar and Brendan Statom on double bass. They do their own arrangements and know how to use their limited forces to great effect. Those who do not care for "classical" music because it lacks an overt beat need not hesitate -- between the guitar and bass there's as much rhythm as anyone could ask for. Apap is a fantastic violinist with every note immaculately clear, even in the quickest passages -- firm timbre and great use of overtones. The group also displays a sense of humor to accentuate their talents, most visible in the traditional "Hora Romanesca (The Lesson)," which starts with a violin played in a deliberately unskilled manner and proceeds to a virtuoso Gypsy hoedown. In addition, a few well-known, flashy items from the classical repertoire have been arranged for the group, such as "The March" from "Love for Three Oranges" and "The Saber Dance" from "Gayane." This quartet occupies the same small niche as Cafe Noir and 81/2 Souvenirs, but Gilles Apap and the Transylvanian Cowboys could please a vast audience who are willing to give it a try.

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