The island – Alexander Balanescu & Ada Milea

Since its formation in 1987, the Balanescu Quartet has acquired a reputation as one of the leading contemporary ensembles in the world. The driving force behind the quartet has always been the virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu, who leads his musicians across musical frontiers into new unchartered territory. The new cd, however, is very special, even within the quartet’s repertoire: together with the Romanian singer Ada Milea Alexander let himself be inspired by the play ‘The Island’ by the Romanian surrealist writer Gellu Naum.

After Alexander Balanescu’s return to Romania in the ‘90s, after an absence of over 20 years, his roots became more and more important to him. At the end of that decade he came across Ada Milea, whose work he thought to be highly original and courageous.
In the new millenium they wanted to work on something that neither of them had attempted before. Ada came up with the idea to use the play ‘The Island’ by the great Romanian surrealist writer Gellu Naum. In turn ‘The Island’ is based on the story of Robinson Crusoe.
The Island is a special project, even for the Balanescu Quartet. It can be considered as a mini-opera with text and music in perfect harmony. The texts are hilarious and slightly absurd, the music is thrilling and fascinating.

“A wild, rumbustious and often extremely amusing land inhabited by a mermaid prostitute, grandparents and a pirate with wooden legs, in which Balanescu’s soft, dead-pan voice of Crusoe, contrasts with the extraordinary vocal gymnastics of Milea” Oxford Times

International reviews

For a quarter of a century now, Alxander Balanescu has been finding ways to synthesise facets of his Romanian heritage with those of contemporay music – for example ‘The Island’ which takes in new and unexpected directions. (…) Although it uses the outline of the Robinson Crusoe story, ‘The Island’ quickly sets off on its own course in which the humorous, the bizarre and the fateful are brought into effective accord. (…) Finely recorded and stylishly presented, the sequence makes an absorbing and effective listen.’ (Gramophone)

Dutch reviews

‘Een fascinerend luisteravontuur waar je geen genoeg van krijgt.’ (Esta)

The Island is based on a play by the Romanian surrealist Gellu Naum, who himself was inspired by Robinson Crusoe’s story. The result is touchting and light hearted at the same time, including tongue in cheek anecdotes about pirates. (Volkskrant)

I’ll start by saying that this is the funniest and most compelling album that I’ve heard the last ten years. The Island is an absurdist mini-opera in which classical music, rock, balkan, jazz, minimal music and serious avant-garde seem to come together. No, read a little longer. The difference with most avant-garde is that here it is allowed to laugh, for the absurdist lyrics of the Romanian writer Gellu Naum, turning the story of Robinson Crusoe completely inside out, are occasionally hilarious.(…) Absolutely magnificent. A sublime masterpiece! (