The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hungary

The twenty-first century has brought exciting and inspiring times for Hungarian music. Masters and students alike experiment freely and confidently with tradition. This Rough Guide traces out a journey via the sounds of Hungarian, Gypsy and Jewish tunes from the Carpathian Basin.

Folk music has long been a common inspiration, a practice inherited from the nation’s great composers, such as Franz Liszt and Zoltán Kodály, who weaved traditional music into their grand symphonies and sonatas. Fittingly the album opens with a track by dazzling fiddler and violist Róbert Lakatos. Here he plays folk songs from Transylvania, originally collected and used in other pieces by Béla Bartók a hundred years ago. Other appearances include those by the exquisite vocalist Beáta Palya, who expanded her knowledge of Eastern European folklore by studying Indian and Persian traditions in France.

Another young singer Ági Szalóki explores the live aspect of folk tradition with one of her wonderfully creative arrangements, ‘Elementem A Piacara’. The cimbalom, a traditional hammered dulcimer, has achieved international recognition thanks to players such as Kálmán Balogh, heard here on the track, ‘Keserédes Kávé’ (‘Bittersweet Coffee’).

A fantastic bonus album is provided by up and coming band, Tárkány-Müvek who fuse together the raw energy of traditional Hungarian folk, the intellectual rigour of classical music, and the spiritual depth of avant gade jazz and poety together into one fabulous mix.