Take It and Run

Give an artist a millimeter, and she’ll take kilometer. Violinist Sarah Nemtanu did just that. It’s not often artists get free range for their recordings. You’d think they would, but produces are always second guessing what they imagine you want. You know what I want? I want an artist to give it all. It shows when that happens. It may not always be the biggest commercial success. Who cares if not? But, it’s happened, big time, on Sarah’s 2010 release Gypsic.

Here’s the CD’s contemplative cover. . .


Here’s what the music sounds like. . .


These images reveal all. This is serious, joyous music. This is artistic expression from the head, the heart, the bowels, the gonads, and the feet. And the selections are equally diverse, from the popular and well known Czádás, by Vittorio Monti, to the seriously profound Violin Sonata #3, by Georges Enesco (a.k.a. George Enescu). Striking, unexpected, even odd diversity makes the album seem at first glance haphazard. Ah, but there’s something holding it all together.

Nemtanu’s soulful, opulent, sumptuous, hefty, chesty tone. Imagine, if you can, the richness of a cello coming out of a violin. It’s unimaginable, but she does it. With impeccable technique and unrivaled expressivity Sarah is able to bind these disparate composers and their compositions into a sequence that makes musical and artistic sense.

But she’s not alone. Along with Chilly Gonzales, on piano, organ farfisa, drums and percussion; Romain Descharmes, piano, luthéal (a type of prepared piano); and Iurie Morar, cimbalon, they forge artistic collaborations that are likewise unimaginable—until you listen. The curious and unique sounds of the organ farfisa and cimbalon add yet more penetrating and euphoric pleasure.

Words are inadequate. Listen—

Tzigane, Maurice Ravel (Violin & Luthéal)


Aires Bohémiens, Pablo de Sarasate (Violin, Cimbalon & Strings)


Blues, Maurice Ravel, arr. Chilly Gonzales


Although the producer gave Sarah artistic free range, the recording engineers took it away from her. They decided to second guess her and the listener. They don’t think you want to hear the full range of dynamics. They think Nemtanu and her sidemen didn’t really mean to express the music so greatly. And they think that you don’t deserve to hear the full expression. Had the audio engineers respected the artists and their music this would have been a triple A production.

(||) Rating — Music : A+ ║ Performance : A+ ║ Recording : D- ║
 Sarah Nemtanu, Gypsic, Naïve, 2010

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