Doina Timisului,
Romanian Tradition
(ARC, 2003)

A friend of mine once said that Gypsy music is ideal for the manic depressant because it is one of very few music types that is fast enough for the manic periods and can lift a person out of depression during the low times. Romanian Tradition is a perfect example of what she meant. Even the slow pieces are uplifting, while the fast ones can challenge the quickest dancers.

There are 22 selections on this CD. All are traditional pieces from Romanian culture. Some are folk dances. Some are ritual dances. A few are just wild choreographies that allow the musicians to improvise at will and demonstrate their skill. But each one is a thrilling adventure in music and dance.

The booklet introduces you to the Romanian dance culture and explains about the traditional dances, which follow roughly the same pattern throughout all the regions. The dances fall into five basic types: hora, doina, braul, ardeleana and sorocul. If you have any interest in the traditional dances and music of Romania, it is worth the price of the CD to get this literature.

How could anyone select a favorite from this collection? I narrowed it to two that equally appealed to my sense of adventure: "Ardeleana de la Fieru" and "Suita de Jocuri de doi." Both come from the ardeleana family of dances, which are designed for couples. They are extremely fast, with superb bass movements.

The members of Doina Timisului for this recording are Achim Ciucurel (double bass, director), Cosmin Golban (taragot, a variation of an eastern oboe), Cosmin Harsian (clarinet), Narcis Aurel Groza (accordion), Nenad Luchin (braci, a five-string guitar, and cobza, an ancient Romanian lute), and Marius Mihai (violin).

The booklet states that the orchestra normally has a drumba (jew's harp of Romania and Moldavia) and an ocarina. I found no mention of these in the credits. However, the credits state that it was recorded in collaboration with the Mondial des Cultures de Drummondville of Quebec, Canada.

This group was originally founded in 1959 for the purpose of preserving the musical and dance traditions, customs and heritage of Romania. Their torch shines brilliantly with this collection.

If you are not familiar with the music of Romania, do not be afraid to try this collection, especially if you love to dance. Any dancer will be glad they ordered this one. Get a copy today and check your pulse rate after that 18th selection.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 24 January 2004

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