Translator: Irène Rognier.
It's been several years since the last Rough Guide to the music of Hungary and a new generation of musicians has come forward. This presents them in a showcase to the rest of the world, and they're very impressive they are. Violinist Robert Lakatos is explosive on the opener, a medley of tunes from Transylvania that highlights his fiery style -- and also manages to connect to the past, as all the pieces were originally collected by composer Béla Bartók, for whom folk melodies were important. The 12-bar boogie isn't exactly a Hungarian music form, but the Kerekes Band makes it into a Balkan art form with some astonishing flute playing that's quite breathtaking. It wouldn't be a Hungarian album without some cimbalom, or hammered dulcimer, and in Kalman Balogh, the album has a virtuoso, here playing a Romanian piece that's quite staggering. There's plenty of violin and klezmer music (gypsy and klezmer music often mixed in the 19th century), and Die Naye Kapelye plays true village music. There's also some hurdy-gurdy, wonderful singing from Szilvia Bognar, still very young but mature beyond her years in both adventure and delivery. But the award for ear-grabbing originality might well lie with Primas Parade, where electric guitar, voice and sax combine to create something new out of folk music -- no fiddle included. It's indicative of the fact that the new Hungarian scene is not only vibrant, but growing. ~ Chris Nickson