Montreal’s Murmurosi is made up of Natalia Telentso and Eli Camilo, a vocal duo with a mandate to revisit Ukranian folk songs, doing them by the book or with a twist. Most of the songs on their debut album, named after the village near Lviv whence cometh Telentso’s family, are in the former category, performed a capella by the pair. Amid these unadorned tracks are a handful with supplemental instruments – piano, upright bass, and on the plaintive waltz “Nich Yaka Misyachna”, suitably weepy trumpet and violin. “Topolka” and “Zymuvala” both showcase the chiming tones of guest Marina Krut’s bandura – a Ukrainian instrument that looks a bit like a mother-to-be, and is surely the result of leaving a lute and a zither alone with a bottle of wine. The main concern here is of course the voices of Telentso and Camilo, weaving together, diverging and concurring according to the polyphonic principle that informs so much vocal music from the larger region. The tunes tend toward the somber and morose, but the pair’s performances – pure, clear, precise and very potent – can only lift the spirits.
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