The Vortex Jazz Club, gig reviews by Chris Parker

Evelyn Petrova
and Alexander Balanescu

Monday 26 May 2008

Their Leo album Upside Down was one of the most distinctive and original recordings of 2007, a heady mix of lively, folkish rhythms and keening melancholy vocals, and such pleasing contrasts also characterised the duo performance – their first at the Vortex – of Russian accordionist/singer Evelyn Petrova and Romanian violinist Alexander Balanescu.

The first set began with Balanescu playing a couple of self-composed studies for solo violin, in which his extraordinary virtuosity was deployed initially to explore polytonality (he adds plucked left-hand notes to his bowing at suitable moments) and subsequently to experiment with the instrument’s percussive possibilities, but the meat of this performance was provided by the clear musical rapport that has been built up between him and Petrova since their first encounter in London in 2005.

She, like him, is an undoubted virtuoso on her instrument, which – especially when blended with her affecting vocals – produces a plethora of sounds composed of joyous runs, dramatic gasps and brooding musing, and together they produce a mesmerising range of musical textures and moods, some to be found on the above-mentioned album, some new compositions.

Petrova also performed solo, mining traditional music for plaintive vocal laments or celebrating the characteristics of the seasons (on this occasion, suitably, portraying May), but it was their utterly distinctive combination – whether exuberant or contemplative – that rendered this gig so special.

Evelina Petrova and Roberto Dani
Part of the project "Mirrors. Dedication to Andrey Tarkovsky"
Fornacepasquinuci gallery, Italy 2014

Two fragments
(Lullaby, Round-Dance)

Evelina Petrova and Alexander Balanesku. Video from Ethnomechanica world music festival 2009 in Saint-Petersburg.

Previous concerts

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