Maria T . featuring the music and voice of Maria Tanase 

Alexander Balanescu and Klaus Obermaier – Balanescu Quartet

... a jewelled gateway into the tragicomedy and poetry of Romanian culture ...

This very special project was inspired by the life and voice of legendary Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase. Born in 1913, Tanase achieved mythical status in Romania both during her lifetime and after her death in 1963. She came to represent the soul and spirit of Romanian popular music and her deep, rich voice made a lasting contribution to the folk tradition of her country and people. Her dramatic style of performance reflected perfectly the cosmopolitan culture of 30s and 40s Bucharest (frequently described as the Paris of the East) and she is revered by her Romanian fans as their own Edith Piaf.

MARIA T explores the lasting impression Tanase's beautiful and evocative songs left on Romanian-born Alexander Balanescu, and allows him to delve deeper into his musical and cultural roots. Taking Tanase's songs as a starting point, Balanescu has created new compositions with a very personal language, filtering the East European flavour of the originals through his experiences as an adult in the West.

The performances feature striking visuals by Austrian video artist and composer Klaus Obermaier presenting archive footage of Maria Tanase, alongside images of Romania's troubled past, from before the Second World War, to the transition to communism and later during the sixties. Balanescu and Obermaier chose to work in parallel, using the audio and visual source material at their disposal as the basis for this stunning collaboration, evoking something of the noise, smells and colours of Bucharest and beyond. In performance, the live quartet is seamlessly incorporated into the visual experience, seeming at times to join Maria Tanase's own band.

Balanescu Quartet

Alexander Balanescu - violin
James Shenton - violin
Katie Wilkinson - viola
Nicholas Holland - cello
Steve Arguelles - drums
Alexander Balanescu
Klaus Obermaier

Video Art and
Additional Compositions

Special Guest