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Style of Five: Russian Folk Ensemble. Delos DE 3251.

Style of Five: Russian Folk Ensemble. Delos DE 3251.

Style of Five was founded in 1993, a group of young virtuoso Russian musicians who play largely on traditional Russian folk instruments and produce some vivacious results. Their music ranges from the conventional through classical to country and blues. Among the highlights: Alexander Shalov's "Valenki," a folk song with verve; Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"; Rameau's "Minuet," "Tambourin," and "Gavotte-Rondeau," my favorites; another from Shalov, "The White Acacia's Fragrant Flakes"; Stravinsky's "Prelude and Tango"; Frolov's "Blues"; and Vlasov's "Basso ostinato." And those are only a few to illustrate the variety! The instruments include the domra, which is stringed and plucked; the gusli (psaltery), also stringed and plucked, the oldest instrument represented; the balalaika, more strings plucked, here a double-bass balalaika; and the bayan, a reed keyboard accordion. Several of the pieces are further augmented by a synthesizer, presumably not an authentic folk instrument.

The sound is labeled "Dolby Surround" so in addition to listening on my main living room stereo speakers (FMI's), I also listened on my home theater surround-sound system (Boston Acoustics). Surprise of surprises, in the latter room I was not totally engulfed by rear-channel resonance as is mostly the case with these kinds of recordings. In fact, there was hardly a peep out of the rear channels, and the front left-to-right spread was reasonably wide. On the bigger Fultons in the bigger living room, the sound was even more stirring, however, opening up to even wider dimensions and displaying greater transparency and depth of field. In either case, the sonics were impressively real and the music impressively vivid. Fun stuff, you know.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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