The Peasant Girl

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Barley,Bartok,Bratsch (arr. Barley),DuOud (arr. Barley),Hermann (arr. Barley),Kodaly,Lewis/Bratsch (arr. Barley),N’Dour & Weather Report (arr. Barley)
WORKS: Chamber works by Barley, Bartók, Bratsch (arr. Barley), DuOud (arr. Barley), Hermann (arr. Barley), Kodály, Lewis/Bratsch (arr. Barley), N’Dour & Weather Report (arr. Barley)
PERFORMER: Viktoria Mullova (violin); The Matthew Barley Ensemble

This could easily slip into the world or jazz reviews sections. The opening track, For Nedim, was originally written by a pair of oud players from North Africa. Like most of the music here, it was arranged by Mullova’s husband, the cellist Matthew Barley. Its harmonic world and the structure of a slow, intense introduction followed by a frenetic dance put it firmly in the gypsy tradition.
The jazz side arrives with the next track – Django, a tribute to the great guitarist, where Julian Joseph’s economical piano plays against Mullova’s relaxed, idiomatic violin. It was a brilliant idea to combine seven Bartók Duos with music by Bratsch, the French gypsy band, and jazz improvisations from Joseph and the two percussionists: the various musical elements are drawn into a creative symbiosis.
The programme, which initially looked bitty, adds up to a coherent sequence, with two numbers by Weather Report not that far away from the world of Youssou N’Dour. All the performances have energy and imagination, and even though Kodály’s Duo, passionately played by Mullova and Barley, might seem at a tangent to the rest, it makes perfect sense as the culmination of a beautifully recorded album. Martin Cotton