Various Artists: The Edge of the Forest: Music From Transylvania

Mention Transylvania to a westerner, and campy vampiric images are liable to dance in their head: such is the power of media and mythology. But, as heard on the rustic collection of Transylvanian music, The Edge of the Forest: Music from Transylvania (Music of the World 144; 51:10), this region, in the northwest corner of Romania, is rich with a culture that reflects the meeting of East and West in a unique way. Of course, it’s also true that Bartok slept here, so to speak: the composer gathered folk songs, later adapted into his own epochal compositions. We can detect some of the Bartokian tonalities and skewed rhythmic values (to western ears) in tracks gathered here, played on violins and violas, with exuberant voices, doba (kettledrum) and odd-sounding pipes. Contained here are vigorous tunes from a little-known and oft-misunderstood corner of the world.