The following article was published in N-SPHERE July 2010 issue.


Squeaky floors, a long line of tables, a black concert piano and the smell of tea and cookies paint out the first image inside the teahouse. Amongst dried roses and red pillows, there is a slight whisper that raises up in the air as one awaits for the concert to begin. The host moves around, lighting small candles on the low tables and the light goes off. Welcome to the ’20s.

Located in the middle of old Bucharest, Sala de Lectura (a Tea House and Reading Room from ACT Theatre) is a place where music, drawing, radio theatre and reading gather round, have tea, shake hands and tell each other old stories. Bringing forth young talented artists, the teahouse hosts daily events, a lookout point into the world of undiscovered talent and fresh ideas. Hosting both visual arts (a photography exhibit and a drawing contest) and weekly improvisation acts, the teahouse ended the season with an exquisite piano and violin concert.

Enticing the mind to dream and succumb into the dazzling air of the ’20s music, the café–concert starts slow, creeping under the skin, taking its time to grab and hold tight to imagination. Closing eyes, one can almost see the exuberance and free spirits of an inter-war setting, as the sounds of the violin reverberate into the room. The air is still and light, a couple holds hands in a corner, friends forget about chatter captivated by the show, a fan slowly opens in the silence and the sounds dance into the distance.

The concert is held by a violin–piano duo, Cristina Pasa and Alexandru Raileanu. Both studying music since childhood, with numerous concerts and awards, they present a tight stage connection and amazing harmony. Spicing the café–chantant with brushes of the roaring twenties, the jazz innuendos fit perfectly into the evening air, the taste of the cooling tea and a subtle frolic around the rooms. The piano slides in unnoticed under the crisp trills of the violin, only to return in full force and steal the attention away. It is a delighting back and forth between frequencies, keeping up with one another, following closely both measures and rhythm.

The evening ends long after the applauses are over, the atmosphere is still inviting to pleasant conversations, faces return to their companions. But smiles linger on and walking outside in the twilight on the narrow street only adds to the brief incursion in the past. Welcome to the present.

review & photo by Vel Thora

Full article here.