+3 Review: Karmana, Songs of the Roma (Summerhall: 12-20 August: 21.15: 1 hour)

“Fantastic, moving and highly recommendable”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

Karmana, Songs of Roma is performed in the Library Gallery of Summerhall. As the Scottish guitarist and composer Simon Thacker and Polish cellist Justyna Joblonska walked in to the room the small crowd fell silent. They did not introduce themselves which I found a little odd but as Thacker began his solo instrumental performance of Albedo I guessed this was to add to the dramatic effect of the song. Immediately I could see that this is one very talented musician who is clearly passionate about his work.

For the second song Thacker was joined by his playing partner Jablonska who’s performance was equally captivating. The flowing sounds of the cello combined with the intricate sounds of the guitar hypnotised the crowd, who remained so  silent throughout you could have heard a pin drop.

Throughout the show Thacker takes the audience on a Romani musical journey with songs from the gypsy tradition. In between songs he explains the history and meaning of each song including his thoughts and reasoning behind each composition. His own personal experience with Indian, Balkan and Spanish music add a special twist to the performance from beginning to end.

Personally I thought the highlight of the evening was when the endearing singer and violinist Masha Natanson joined to complete the trio. Originally from Lubin, Poland, Natanson adds a new, traditional element to the performance. As cliché as it may sound, I really did get goosebumps when she began to sing Ne Govorite Mne O Nem (Don’t Talk To Me About Him). Natanson sang with such emotion that although I couldn’t understand the Russian lyrics I could tell she was portraying a heart-broken woman. At one point she even charmed the audience with her premiere of speaking in English to a crowd and no one could help but smile and giggle as she tried her very best!

Perhaps I have been caught up in the excitement and excess of the Fringe but the only thing I would like to have seen improved was the set. The whole room was lit in a romantic red but I feel focusing more of the lighting on the performers would have added to the dramatic effect of the songs.

Overall it was a fantastic, moving and highly recommendable show – particularly for those interested in the traditional music of different cultures.

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Reviewer: Iona Young (Seen 16 August)

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