Foaie verde* – Day 9

Maria Tănase was the first to combine French chansons with Romanian folk music, more precisely the melancholic-lyrical genre of doinas and dirges, about the torments of a passionate life and world, setting an example of how folklore can become a source of inspiration not only in classical music but in contemporary pop music, too. Her legacy, together with folk music’s is huge, rich and beautiful; both served as inspiration for the Bălănescu Quartet. It was this cultural heritage that Maria Răducanu, who performed yesterday at REFLEX, was also dialoguing with, retelling, singing, interpreting it even further in her music.

Maria Răducanu is an internationally renowned representative of the Romanian new wave in jazz, a soprano with a peculiar voice, who engages in a discourse not only with different musical traditions but also with their icons, with iconography per se. A key element of her relationship with music lies in the playfulness that is weaved into her performance through gestures of citation, the way she recognises the legacy and also freely detaches herself from it. She flashes different musical poses, the gloomy figures of chanson singers or dirge singers such as Tănase or Piaf, but she does not view them as immovable or closed, instead, she continuously exits them and through this constant movement and circling new music is born, one that is light and gently blissful, despite of the sad melodies it is based on.

This playfulness cannot be detached from Răducanu’s performing persona, her solid presence, her personality, her grey hair – from the passing of time. There is no exhibition and no concealment: what we have, instead, is a performer who has formed an authentic relationship with herself on stage and who, because of this, is a natural. You can immediately connect to her and her music.

Răducanu sings in Romanian, French, and English. The chansons, folk songs, lullabies, and manele are rewritten by her and her band to create a special language. Interestingly, when she sings in Romanian, she murmurs and shreds the words into near incomprehensibility. It is, maybe, because not everything feels equally foreign to her.


[*] Green leaf. The first couple of words in a typical Romanian folk song.