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World Music CD Reviews Europe

ERIK MARCHAND ET LES BALKANIKS

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published January 25, 2006

Pruna
Le Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi

Erik Marchand is an important figure in Breton music but in recent years he has been exploring the common ground between the music of his region and that of Romania. Pruna is an especially ambitious project with his veteran colleagues (Jacky Molard on fiddle and guitar and Gabriel Kerdoncuff on trumpet and bombarde) teaming up with a dozen or so musicians from Romania, Moldava, Serbia and Turkey. This time Breton music takes a back seat on most of the tracks. The cimbalom, accordion and woodwind instruments tend to dominate but in a good way. Even the songs with complex tempos often have a somber quality to them, although they’re played with high energy and virtuosity to match. The accordion and clarinet playing at breakneck speed on a couple of two-part gwerz tunes from Brittany is quite amazing but the other tracks don’t really pale in comparison. Marchand rides above it all with his commanding voice with its distinctive vibrato.