Alyssa A. Lappen | Earth | 11/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Merely mentioning Gypsies, or Roma, often produces a hail of stereotypes. People say they have "music in their blood." After all, they frequent Budapest cafes and sightseeing spots and Roma musicians generally pass their skill on to their children.But Roma musical art--as exemplified by the extraordinary work on this disc--probably stems less from heredity than necessity: Vlach Roma arrived in Hungary for work following their 1855 emancipation from Romanian slavery but freedom gave them few economic prospects. Like the Jews before them, they were legally limited to certain types of employment and suffered intense discrimination. High illiteracy, too, made music one of few productive enterprises open to them.Despite the harsh social conditions in which they live, however, Roma music telegraphs an intense joi de vivre. The cuts on this disc are cheerful, exhilarant, even. Like Jewish klezmer music, they evoke a spirituality, a realm beyond the ordinary. I especially like the Csardas and Melody from Hortobagy (a Hungarian national park boasting tremendous bird life).This recording is an amazing set of work. It's authentic, rich and culturally discrete. And it takes one's understanding of the Roma to a new level: their music is legendary for more than one reason: they work hard at it. --Alyssa A. Lappen"