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Blues for Transylvania
Blues for Transylvania
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Despite the best efforts of Romania's Ceaucescu dictatorship to make Transylvanian folk culture disappear, it survived at least in part due to the very deprivations (e.g., the lack of electricity and education) that were i...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Muzsikas
Title: Blues for Transylvania
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hannibal
Release Date: 7/1/1991
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Pop
Styles: Europe, Continental Europe, Eastern Europe
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 031257135023, 031257135016, 031257135047, 4015698882322, 401569888232

Despite the best efforts of Romania's Ceaucescu dictatorship to make Transylvanian folk culture disappear, it survived at least in part due to the very deprivations (e.g., the lack of electricity and education) that were intended to destroy it. This well-known Hungarian quintet began rooting around in the one-time Hungarian territory a decade ago, and their first collection of Transylvanian tunes is a deep and diverse treasure trove of nearly forgotten centuries-old acoustic history. A droning hurdy-gurdy introduces a song about the "damned misery of love"; a pair of fiddles rouse dancers to high-stepping wedding and Christmas dances; a sad string quartet accompanies a song describing "The Time of Autumn" when conscripted soldiers left their villages. And, as with all Muzsikas's albums, Marta Sebestyen's wise and clear and cold voice re-creates another world in your living room. --Richard Gehr

CD Reviews

Heard these songs in Minneapolis; marvelled at the muzsik
Roseanne T. Sullivan | 03/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you buy this album you are in for a treat
for your ears and your mind.A Hungarian friend of mine took me with her
to hear Muzikas while I was in the Twin Cities
last month and the group was on tour. The
music was a revelation to me.I am half-Hungarian but had never heard Hungarian
folk music before, except perhaps through classical
music composers who adapted folk songs for their work.My friend has heard Muzsikas perform before many
times, some of those times in Hungary. I'm very
glad she brought me along to hear them at
the Cedar Cultural Center.It was like I had been ushered into a new musical
world. During intermission I bought two of their CDs.
For the rest of my stay, as I drove around the Twin
Cities area I played the CDs
constantly in my rental car, trying to comprehend
what made the music so unusual and haunting.The Blues for Transylvania is the more intriguing of the two
albums I bought, partly because it contains music from
the Jews who used to live in the Carpathian mountains in
Transylvania. The Jews are gone from there. Many, of course,
were killed by the Nazis, and others emigrated. Muzsikas went to Transylvanian weddings, funerals,
dances, and collected the music that was left behind.The bass player announced that in the Carpathians
there is none of the noise pollution as the
rest of us know it in our lives. Only perhaps the occasional
sound of "a bear screaming in the forest."With all that silence to fill, the music the Jews
in Carpathians created sounds almost Chinese I don't
have the training or the right vocabulary for talking
about music but the intentional discordancies,
the varied meters, the unusual instruments, and the
sound of Marta Sebestyen's voice all cast a spell
on me. It was alien, but also familiar at the same
time. Sure I've heard lots of fiddles and
and lots of reels in Irish, Welsh, and
American country music. And even though Muzsikas
was playing fiddles and playing reels,
there were none of the familiar conventions I've
grown used to. Just when I thought they would play
to the end of a musical line, they would cut it
short. The bass player not only laid down the
bass line, but in some songs played the melody.
It was surprising in many ways.Even the instruments were unpredictable.
At one point they produced an instrument that
looked like a short bass, and explained that
it is played by percussion. The
strings are hit instead of stroked--with the
exception of one string that is plucked.The varieties of musical experience . . ..And the words. I envy my friend who was able to
understand the words. I had to pour over the liner notes
to find that they sang about romantic horse
thieves, unfaithful lovers, and a cold marriage
bed . . .."