21 October: Prisăcani; Alecu Crudu

Priscăcani was my second stop on this branch of the journey, we got to this village without too much trouble, and once there asked around and were pointed to Crudu's place. It was up a hill along a two rut road even a horse would have a difficult time navigating, so we left the car on the main road through the village, itself a dirt road, and climbed the hill to Crudu's house. It looked deserted except for a ferocious sounding guard dog. We had hung around for a few minutes and were pondering whether to leave when we saw a woman come up the hill from a field off to the side of the yard. She carried a large burlap sac filled with maize, and behind her was a second woman, older, with another bag. It’s harvest time in Moldavia. The first woman saw us and tied the dog to a stake and
then came Alecu Crudu. He was a formidable sight, he had big white beard and wore thick eye-glasses. He lumbered up the hill into the yard with a couple large sacs of maize. When he saw us he stopped and put the sacs down and had a look at us. Sorin explained what we were doing and after a moments time to consider the idea, he invited us into the house.

Crudu sings and plays the fish scale. He puts the scale in his mouth it sound it makes is similar to a sort of rough sounding clarinet. While I acted as technician and photographer he chatted with Sorin, belaboring the state of Romania today, the decline of Romanian culture and the commercialization and sexualization of music. He held that things were better in the days of communism.

Sound: Crudu singing

There was a warmth between the three of them, his wife’s fondness very evident. After the impromptu fish scale concert he sang for us for 15 minutes. It was amazing to be listening to this man performing songs from traditions that are pretty much lost. I might be mistaken but I heard a haunting echo of ancient Jewish cantorial singing in the beginning of the excerpt posted here. Check it out for yourself.

Dusk was at hand and we needed to get down the hill while there was still some light. I was able to give him something from the fund and they were very grateful, they said it came at a very good time, as they were in serious need of money at that moment. We could have showed up at any moment of course, and it would have been just as true.

next: 22 October: A Jazz Gig in Iaşi

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