"When you come from a country whose musical tradition has already been covered so well by the huge talent of Márta Sebestyén, you certainly need a very good reason to find the courage to put out a similar record.
Ágnes Herczku has every right to feel vindicated by her decision to do just that. In Gold and Blue is reminiscent of Sebestyén but is different enough and personal enough to allow Herczku to claim a part of that tradition as her own.
So, this album which is: "...not only about love, though it is mainly about that" and which speaks of: "...love's pleasures and miseries - things we would rather just sing to ourselves", as she says in the introduction, is venturing into familiar territory, albeit discovering in the process unfathomable levels of sorrow and passion in those traditional songs. Sorrow so heart-wrenching that even reading the translated lyrics asks for nerves of steel and passion so strong that it leads one into questioning the open-mindedness of our so-called 'progressive' times.
Passion and sorrow, however, are often the two sides of the same coin, a low-valued one that speaks of crushing poverty and soul-wrenching fatigue. Of women forced to marry just to combine the cattle of the two families into a substantive flock, of resilient mothers who cannot support their children's emotional needs, of young boys and girls who break every rule in order to make do in an inhospitable environment. And although on a surface level those stories seem like tales from a vicious past, soon you realize how many people face the same kind of problems today. The Brazilian girls looking for a sugar daddy abroad over the Internet, the Eastern European girls following their consumerist dreams to sexual slavery in the Liberal West, the Albanian, Mexican and Nigerian men crossing the frozen Mediterranean and the punishing desert to the American Dream or to the European Welfare State.
You think of those things while the "gypsy" violins play out their usual tales of "Hungarianess." We all know what to expect: Bartók has already showed the way and Márta Sebestyén has sung about it. Yet the fire that burns inside this music transcends all stereotypes and melts all our expectations. The recording is of such detail that small musical structures fill the room. The stories leap out of the speakers. And Ágnes Herczku sings beautifully, in a way that is both full of feeling with just a touch emotional detachment. These stories are meaningful to her, but are not her own and she points out the difference, lest we are misled into believing we know how it is to feel like that.
This is a demanding, difficult record that points the way to the greater mysteries of life, and particularly love; a journey more than a recording."
1. Prológus / Prologue
2. Hazám, hazám... / My Home, My Home…
3. Költözik a vándormadár... / The Wandering Bird Moves On…
4. Mikorjára menyecske lesz... / When Will A Bride Be Of This Girl…
5. Egy menyasszonyé / A Bride’s
6. Felvidéki párosítók / Match Making Songs
7. Volt nékem szeretőm... / I Had a Lover…
8. Verd meg, Isten... / God Strike Down…
9. Bánjad, asszony, bánjad... / Deplore It, Woman…
10. Arany és kék / Blue And Gold
11. Epilógus / Epilogue
Ágnes Herczku – voice
Gergely Agócs – wooden flute
Kálmán Balogh – cimbalom
Róbert Doór – double bass
Pál Dsupin – wooden flute
Sándor D. Tóth “Satya” – viola
Géza Fábri – Moldavian lute
Tamás Gombai – violin
Zsolt Kürtösi – double bass
László Mester – viola
Miklós Molnár – violin
Csaba Ökrös – violin
Gábor Szabó “Suvi” - violin