While it may sound like an entire Balkan gypsy orchestra playing modern songs as mournful ballads and upbeat marches, Beirut's first album, Gulag Orkestar, is largely the work of one 19-year-old Albuquerque native, Zach Condon, with assistance by Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw). Horns, violins, cellos, ukuleles, mandolins, glockenspiels, drums, tambourines, congas, organs, pianos, clarinets and accordions (no guitars on this album!) all build and break the melodies under Condon's deep-voiced crooner vocals, swaying to the Eastern European beats like a drunken 12-member ensemble that has fallen in love with The Magnetic Fields, Talking Heads and Neutral Milk Hotel.
"...stunning spring-to-summer gypsy-klezmer...beautiful and disarming."
"...awe-inspiring, wonderous, almost intangible composition of raw talent, emotion, and complexity, reminding us why we listen to music..."
"...a feat because it is a folky record that is so much fun."
"This kid...is a genius, who...has created one of the most diverse and creative albums of 2006 thus far."
01. The Gulag Orkestar
04. Postcards From Italy
05. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)
06. Rhineland (Heartland)
07. Scenic World
09. The Bunker
10. The Canals Of Our City
11. After The Curtain
One of Hungary's most popular táncház band Csik Ensemble are on this released joined by Kálmán Magyar (member of New York based Életfa Group), and Ukraine born Cimbalom player Alexander Fedoriouk amongst others.
These recordings are the result of Csik Ensemble's own research in Hungary Moldavia and Romania, as well as that of pioneering work done by György Martin. To aid the arranging of these songs they have also studied film footage of old traditional csardas dancing and ritual folk customs.
Csík Ensemble, which plays traditional Transylvanian and Hungarian village music, was founded in Kecskemét, Hungary, in 1988. Over the years they have become popular playing at dance-houses and concerts both in Hungary and abroad. Previously, they have been awarded the titles of "Young Masters of folk Art" and "Eminent Art Ensemble".
Kiskunság, Bácska, Sárköz, Gyimes, Székely land, North-Mezőség, Moldva, Oltenia: these are the areas where the band selected the materials for its record.
(Kunszentmiklós - Kiskunság)
02. Oláhos, Lassú és frisscsárdás
(Kecskemét, Kiskunhalas, Jakabszállás - Kiskunság)
03. Rózsa, rózsa, labdarózsa levele
(Bátmonostor - Bácska)
04. Csárdás, friss és mars
(Kalocsa - Sárköz)
05. Keserves, lassúmagyaros és féloláhos
(Gyimesközéplok - Gyimes)
06. Sebes forduló, csárdás és verbunk
(Magyarpéterlaka - Székelyföld)
(Muntenia, Oltenia - Románia)
(Bethlen - Észak-mezőség)
09. Karácsonyi és újévi köszöntő
(Klézse, Lészped - Moldva)
10. Öreges és lassú csárdás, szökős és cigánycsárdás
(Bethlen - Észak-Mezőség)
(Erdőszombattelke - Észak-Mezőség)
János Csík – violin, voice
Mihály Dresch - tárogató, flute
Gyula László Kozma – double bass, tambur
Marianna Majorosi - vioce
Zoltán Nagy - cimbalom, tambur, voice
Lóránt Vass – viola, 3-stringed viola
Few people have as much right to claim they are world musicians as Ferenc Snétberger has. Hailing from a Sinti/Roma family in Hungary, Snétberger played Gypsy guitar at an early age, learned classical guitar as a teenager, studied jazz guitar later at the Ferenc Liszt Academy, Budapest and adapted Brazilian and Spanish techniques to his playing. Carrying in his bag the passion of tango, Indian music and the admiration for Egberto Gismonti, Jim Hall and Johann Sebastian Bach, Snétberger knew from the start that he would never want to play without improvising but keep his exquisite classical touch whatever he would do. "I am a jazz guitarist but also a classical guitarist", he says. "Folklore - that's my childhood and youth, my roots. The touch is more classical, the sound is jazz. I don't have a recipe for this mixture, I put it together unconsciously." Since living in Berlin, Snétberger has become one of the few truly distinctive voices on contemporary guitar, a border-crossing virtuoso of a rare kind. An obvious choice to step in for the late Charlie Byrd in the 'Great Guitars' band and a welcome celebrity at the Budapest Music Academy, he also frequently appears in ethnic-oriented musical contexts.
Presenting him as a mature composer in different settings, "For My People" is unlike any of Snétberger's earlier recordings. The solo pieces are elegant bows towards Spain and Latin America featuring Snétberger's improvisational fantasy combined within clear playing concepts for the classical guitar. The sensational duo suite with trumpet virtuoso Markus Stockhausen, a son of the famous composer, surprised the creators themselves upon listening back. After the first rehearsal, the two of them put aside the written parts and improvised like one man. However, the most significant and elaborate piece on the album is Snétberger's Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra in three movements. Dedicated to the memory of his people, the Roma and Sinti, the concert is inspired by the soulful melodies of Gypsy tradition. A vital statement against human suffering, "In Memory of my People" was written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. Snétberger improvised his own part within the frameworks of the score and presents his instrument as a mighty concert voice.
3. Gond Nélkül
5. Hallgató (Adagio - Allegro)
6. Emlékek (Adagio)
7. Tánc (Allegro furioso)
9. Vals Criollo / Vals Gitano
Ferenc Snétberger - acoustic guitar
Markus Stockhausen - trumpet (# 2 & 4), flügelhorn (# 3)
The Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra
Liszt Ferenc Kamarazenekar, Budapest: (# 5-7)
Concert Master: János Rolla; Violins I: János Rolla, György Lovas, Zoltán Tfirst, Péter Hamar, Lili Áldor; Violins II: Kálmán Kostyál, Zsuzsa Weisz, Péter Gazda, György Kiss, Éva Isépy; Violas: Mihály Várnagy, Attila Lezsák, András Pista; Cellos: Mária Frank, Otto Kertész, Anna Sándor; Double Bass: Alajos H. Zováthi