Mute announce An Introduction To…, a series of compilations that launch with This Is The Balanescu Quartet on August 23rd 2011.
This Is The Balanescu Quartet is a look into the beautiful soundscapes created by Alexander Balanescu, one of the most visionary and exciting violinists and composers of our time. The collection illustrates the Balanescu Quartet’s unique musical versatility and creativity across their four releases on Mute. Balanescu Quartet and Alexander Balanescu play a series of dates across Europe over the summer, full details below.
Alexander Balanescu was born in Romania under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu and fled the regime, emigrating with his parents to Israel where he studied the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem, later the Trinity College in London and finally the prestigious Julliard School in New York, taking part in masterclasses with Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzhak Perlman, amongst others.
Returning to London he joined the Arditti Quartet, renowned for their commitment to new composers and exposing Balanescu to the music of Ligeti, Xenakis, Carter and many others. Anxious to bring his work to a greater audience, he left to form his own Quartet in 1987 embarking on a close working relationship with British avant-garde composers Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars.
In 1989 Neil Tennant approached the Quartet to play his own choice of Stravinsky, Webern and Shostakovich pieces when the Balanescu Quartet opened for The Pet Shop Boys on their first tour, with Balanescu working with the duo again when he arranged their album track ‘My October Symphony' (1990). Establishing a reputation, the Quartet went on to provide strings for Kate Bush and work with John Lurie of The Lounge Lizards as well as former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.
After signing to Mute, the Balanescu Quartet turned its attention to Kraftwerk and recreated their seminal electronic soundworld for string quartet in the most renowned collection of reinterpretations of Kraftwerk, ‘Possessed’ (1992).
As a natural progression to an album based on his memories and roots, ‘Luminitza’ (Little Light in Romanian) followed in 1994, with a unique blend of folk, Romanian traditional music and electronica, classical and avant-garde.
The next release for Mute was the stunning soundtrack for Philip Haas' film ‘Angels And Insects’ (1995), based on the AS Byatt novella of the same name. Utilising an orchestra he composed , performed and directed the entire soundtrack.
In 2005 the Balanescu Quartet released Maria T, Alexander Balanescu's personal homage to Maria Tanase (known as the Romanian Edith Piaf) by recreating songs and re-interpreting others, using samples of Tanase’s voice, creating an eerie, nostalgic feel that is a trademark of the composer. On stage, Maria T is a multi-media project with the collaboration of the extraordinary video artist Klaus Obermaier, which introduces the audience to the spirit of Maria Tanase as well as Romanian culture and history through live music, archive sounds, and video projections re-imagined and manipulated into a warm and tragicomic world .
Says Balanescu, “We have also been fortunate as a group, with our spiritual home at Mute, to have absolute artistic freedom, which has allowed for each album to be completely different to the last, and, in a sense, initiate a new quest: from entertaining the radical idea of translating the electronic music of Kraftwerk for strings and my own jazz/rock influenced music on the album Possessed, to the sensual, classical elegance of Angels and Insects; from exploring my Romanian roots on the autobiographical Luminitza to using technology for working with traditional music and creating a new musical reality for Maria T. It has been interesting putting together an album with all these different elements. Maybe, after all, there is an underlying unity to this music.”
THIS IS THE BALANESCU QUARTET - TRACKLISTING
Aria (Maria T)
Coppice (Angels and Insects)
Wine's So Good (Maria T)
Waltz (Angels and Insects)
The Young Conscript And The Moon (Maria T)
Still with me (Luminitza)
Love Scene (Angels and Insects)
Pocket Calculator (Possessed)
Pre-order the compilation here