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CD Review: Music of Planet Earth
Gypsy Strings:
Zoltan Racz, accordion, melodica
Bruno Nasta, violin, viola
Jon Nazdin, double bass
Charles Cliff, Jr., guitar, mandolin, banjo, charango, recorder and harmonica


Cabral: La Foule
Korsakov: Sheherezade
Rossini: La Danza
Trad.: Yasmina
Piazzolla: Oblivion
Piazzolla: Libertango
Trad.: Charish the Ladies
Rota: Fellini Film Music
Piazzolla: Adios Nonino
Mascagni: Moody Mascagni
Giuffre: Four Brothers
Corea: Armando's Rhumba
Peyronnin/Guerino: Brise Napolitaine
Racz: Virtual Klezmer
Shostakovich: Second Waltz
Theodorakis: Zorba's Dance
Trad.: Russian Medley
Strauss: Radetzky Marsch

total time: 61:55
released: 1997

As of 2.24.02 this cd was out of print.

Review by Robert Berta:

Wow, what a gem! The wide variety of world music on this CD will provide something appealing to just about anyone, and the musicianship is without peer. This group reminds me very much of the groups that I grew up listening to back in the late 50's and early 60's, sort of the "Three Sons" style of music.

The music you will find here touches everything from Folk to Klezmer to Argentine Tango to the Classics. All of this would come off as just a collection of world music, were it not for the incredibly gifted musicians here. From the very first track I knew I was in for a wonderful treat; the musicians all impressed me as being very capable of virtuoso performances. Of course, as an accordionist myself, I was most drawn to the accordionist, Zoltan Racz, who impressed me with his precise and crisp technique. This was most evident in his performance on "Brise Napolitaine" which was a real treat; in fact, after hearing the tune, I am trying to add it to my repertoire.

The other three artists were equally amazing. The violinist, Bruno Nasta, came through with a gorgeous tone and literally could make his instrument cry. Wow, what a sound! The guitarist and double bassist rounded out the group's overall color, creating a near perfect melding of tone that, for the most part, I found very pleasing.

The various Astor Piazzolla selections were excellent. In one case, "Oblivion," I preferred their slower and very moving rendition to the other versions I have heard. In some of the tangos, Zoltan utilized a melodica to great effect, simulating the sound of a bandoneon. I never realized what a most interesting instrument this would be for Tango music; it has a more bandoneon-like sound than the normal accordion.

There were a several minor areas where the instrumentation did not necessarily fit well. In one selection a banjo was used which I felt was not appropriate and distracting. In the "Sheherezade" the opening movement was heavy and ponderous, but when Bruno's gorgeous violin entered, the piece was transformed into a truly beautiful song. After hearing the selection, "Virtual Klezmer," composed by Zoltan Racz, I was left with a desire to hear more of his compositions.

In conclusion, this has to be one of my favorites of the latest batch of CDs I have listened to--excellent arrangements and an extraordinary performance--in fact, I would rate this disc among my top ten favorites of all time.

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