Lucretia Ciobanu

Romania: Multumescu-Ti-Primavara

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Similarities between Italian and Romanian could lead pasta-loving listeners to find a connection between the former language's "prima-vera," which means the latest fresh vegetables, and the Romanian word "primavara" in this album title, which, in the context of this superior vocalist, might mean she is delivering music with the fresh crunch of a head of lettuce. And that's a heck of a lot more than one could buy in a Romanian grocery store when this album was released. The orchestra of George Vancu, regularly featured on the state radio and involved in many similar recording projects, accompanies the songstress with impressive skill on a program of a dozen traditional songs, one of which, "Lui, Lui, Lui," might wind up getting grabbed in haste by a vision-impaired DJ looking for the Kingsmen and their famous rock & roll hit, while it is actually a meltdown-style romantic ballad. Ciobanu has a powerful, husky voice that might remind some listeners of Marlene Dietrich or Lotte Lenya, while the orchestra pulls off instrumental passages in exotic Eastern modes that bring to mind musicians locked in a room and ordered by the secret police to rehearse until they can no longer think straight.

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