Titanic Ensemble

Orient Express

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Anyone who enjoys light popular music from the past century played with gusto and panache need look no further than this recording. Modeled on the salon orchestras of the turn of the century, the Titanic Ensemble is a seven-member Belgian band featuring violin, flute, clarinet, cello, piano, bass plus a percussionist who doubles on the accordion. For repertoire, the group has chosen works ranging across the globe, from Charles Cuvillier's Troublante Sensuality to Gerhard Mohr's Orient Express to Léo Pouget's Sèrènade Indo-Chinoise to Vincent Youmans' "I Want to be Happy." The Titanic Ensemble's style is ironically insouciant, straightfaced enough to be taken seriously but sly enough to be enjoyed thoroughly, and with buoyant rhythms, bright colors, and lithesome phrasing, the band's performances are always wholly convincing even in the most precious works. Recorded live in Luis Angel Arango Concert Hall in Bogota, Columbia, on the group's second South American tour in 2001, this disc will charm those who are willing to let go of their high or low art prejudices and allow themselves to be charmed by the pop music of a bygone era. Pavane Records' digital sound is a bit scrappy but very present. The audience's applause after each number is enthusiastic, but a bit wearying after a time.

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