Album: Various artists, Rough Guide...Russian Gypsies (World Music Network)

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The Independent Culture

"Russian Romance" has a fascinating history, having been a staple of both Russian and Russian-gypsy cultures for two centuries, and having had a big boost from the Soviets.

This compilation dwells for the most part in the cosy café world, but at times gives that whiff of wildness that is gypsy music's hallmark. Arbat's delivery of "Ke Chourlaki" goes straight to the heart, as does the raw sound of Leonsia Erdenko in "Lumba". A pity no instrumentation is given, nor any credit to the brilliant supporting musicians.