Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Marta Sebestyen is one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful artists in world music. On I Can See the Gates of Heaven, Sebestyen sings songs personally chosen from the extensive Hungarian folk and religious repertoire -- songs that have close personal resonance for her and that reflect the proud cultural heritage of the Carpathians. Her accompanying musicians are two of Hungary's finest: Balazs Dongo Sokolay on bagpipes, flutes, saxophone and tarogato and Martyas Bolya on lute and zither.
Personnel: Márta Sebestyén (vocals, tin whistle, drums); Mátyás Bolya (zither); Szokolay Dongó Balázs (bagpipe, tarogato, saxophone).
Audio Mixer: János Horváth.
Liner Note Authors: Ferenc Sebo; Márta Sebestyén.
Photographers: Zoltán Vancsó; György Szomjas; Róbert László Bácsi; László Perger.
Translator: Laurence Quinnell.
Márta Sebestyén is best known for her work with Muzsikás as well as for her contribution to the soundtrack of The English Patient, but the Hungarian singer has released a number of solo discs. This is a very worthy addition to her canon. With Sebestyén accompanied by two multi-instrumentalists on a range of instruments (eight of them) as well as her own whistle and drum playing, this is far less stripped-down than it might seem. There's a fullness to her singing and to the arrangements that makes these songs leap out of the speakers. The music is a mix of secular and religious songs from Sebestyén's homeland, all traditional and largely kept alive by the oral tradition. These versions do offer a reinvention of sorts, taking them out of their old, largely a cappella context, but they keep close to the raw heart of the material, finding the sharp beauty of the songs. It's been too long since Márta Sebestyén issued a disc, so that makes this glittering return doubly welcome. ~ Chris Nickson
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