This evening is inspired by and dedicated to Maria Tanase (1913-1963), the greatest Romanian popular singer of all times. Throughout her career, she collected and reworked native songs from different regions of Romania, and made them her own. Alexander Balanescu, leader of the Quartet, felt attracted to this material, as these songs embody the spirit of Romanian poetry and philosophy. For his album Luminitza, he developed a new personal language, while remaining faithful to the source material. Sometimes, he used melodic or rhythmic cells from the songs as building blocks for composition. At other times, he sampled the old recordings of Maria's voice and combined them with the live Quartet.
Since its formation in 1987, the Balanescu Quartet has acquired a reputation as one of the world’s leading contemporary string quartets. Its guiding force is the violin virtuoso, prolific composer and Julliard graduate, Alexander Balanescu, whose desire to push the limits and belief in fluidity between different artistic fields has led the ensemble across musical frontiers into new unchartered territory. Through collaborations with David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk, they have developed a unique writing and performing style, which sets them apart from any other string quartet. The Balanescu Quartet has played in a wide variety of venues, including London’s South Bank Centre and New York’s Knitting Factory, and they even opened to 10,000 Pet Shop Boys fans at Wembley Arena.
Alexander Balanescu: violin/ James Shenton: violin/ Helen Kamminga: viola/ Nicholas Holland: cello/ Steve Arguelles: percussion/ David Kent: sound engineer