Márta Sebestyén,
(Hannibal, 1996)

Márta Sebestyén's album, Kismet, strays slightly from her usual form of music -- Hungarian folk -- as she begins to explore the realm of Celtic music.

I was first drawn to Sebestyén's music by her singing of "Szerelem" in the beginning of the movie The English Patient. The song is haunting and her voice is alluring. I couldn't get "Szerelem" out of my head, so I knew I had to explore her music further. This was my first attempt at listening to Hungarian music. I was not disappointed at all.

Most of the songs on Kismet are Hungarian folk; however, two of the songs are of Irish origin. The two Irish songs are "Leaving Derry Quay/Eleni" and "The Shores of Loch Brann/Hazafelé." I had heard Afro-Celtic music and Celtic music with a Middle Eastern influence to it, but I had never been exposed to the influence of Hungarian music on Celtic. Sebestyén's take on "Leaving Derry Quay/Eleni" is very unique. She sings in English with a thick Hungarian accent and the vocals are accompanied by non-Celtic instruments. Some have said that a good traditional musician is one that can make the oldest and most reproduced song sound completely new to the listener. Sebestyén's has certainly accomplished that task.

Kismet opens up with the energetic "Devoiko Mome." This song begins with a guitar, and is shortly followed by vocals. Sebestyén's vocals are very raw and distinct. There is a beautiful, alluring quality to her voice that makes her music enchanting. "If I Were A Rose (Ha En Rozsa Volnék)" and "Leaving Derry Quay/Eleni" are the only other songs on Kismet that are similar in energy to "Devoiko Mome."

"Sino Moi" also opens with guitar, but is much slower in pace. Though this song is not sung in English, the music's somber tone speaks for itself. "Imam Sluzhba (The Conscript)" is similar in tone to "Sino Moi."

I am not an expert when it comes to Hungarian music. I wasn't able to point out all the instruments featured in the individual songs. The musicians featured on Kismet are Zoltan Lantos (violin), Kornel Horvath (percussion), Péter Eri (mandola), András Berecz (additional vocals on "If I Were A Rose"), and Nikola Parov (guitar, koboz, flute, tambourine, keyboards, bouzouki, kaval, gadulka, clarinet, tambura, gardon, whistles, bass, drum and sequencer programming).

Purchasing Kismet was one of the smartest choices I've made. The music stands apart from the rest of my collection, and has opened me up to a new genre of wonderful music. I strongly recommend the music of Márta Sebestyén to anyone that loves music.

[ by Stephanie Giamundo ]

Buy Kismet from Amazon.com.




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