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Muzsikás: Morning Star

Eastern European folk music has had a stronger and more pervasive influence on the world’s music than we even realize. In classical music of this century, Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly are among the composers who tapped directly into its rustic charms and adapted it to concerns of contemporary music. And, in recent years, we’ve heard passionate, exotic sounds from the likes of the Hungarian group Muzsikás and vocalist Marta Sebestyen. Their new album Morning Star (Hannibal 1401; 55:58) is another powerful statement of the lost-or at least underexposed-beauty of folk musics from behind the former iron curtain, of traditional tunes from Hungary, Romania and Transylvania.

Sebestyen first collaborated with Muzsikás in the early ’80s, when all the musicians were engaged in the “tanchez” (dance house) movement, retracing the roots of Hungarian folk music. Not unlike Bartok, they sought out musicians in rural outposts, gathering artistic data from “the field,” enriching their sense of connection with a tradition that has little to do with urban experience or the global village.

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