Tribute to Maria T

IAN COLLINS Norwich Playhouse

IAN COLLINS

> Norwich Playhouse

We begin by counting sheep – court-esy of video artist Klaus Obermaier – but just as I am about to nod off, the music kicks in. And it's riveting.

Resident festival artist Alexander Balanescu and his jazzy/electric/ folkie string quartet bring echoes of Michael Nyman and Kraftwerk (they've worked with both). I also think of Philip Glass teaming up with a gipsy band.

The evening is dedicated to Maria Tanase, the Romanian Piaf who wowed bohemian Bucharest with fiery folk songs. It's a homage but not a documentary. I leave knowing little more about this intriguing Balkan icon, other than that she sang a rousing drinking song. Apparently she acted too, in between the booze, fags and love affairs.

Balanescu himself is a mean fiddler, with three virtuoso musicians for company, and a notable composer.

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But I could have done without the Obermaier distractions.