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Tibor Szemzo: The Other Shore

Robert Spencer By

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This astounding disc is difficult to classify. It contains one piece of Buddhist chant, backed by a medium-sized string and percussion ensemble (plus leader Tibor Szemzo's bass flute). This chant has an otherworldly beauty, ably underscored (i.e., not interfered with) by the instrumentalists. At rhythmic points the musicians come to the fore (as the chant continues), punctuating the chant and introducing a counterpoint with the chant's natural rhythm.

Then the second piece is a conversation among Gypsies in Hungary, translated (apparently) in the liner notes. As the talk grows more heated, so does the percussion behind it. This recording directs the attention to the music and rhythm of the human voice - perhaps out of a somewhat Cagean imperative. This culminates in the haunting "Hitler Ballad," a Gypsy lament, sung by a gravelly-voiced fellow, for all those the man killed.

Then there's "Gull," a "choral variation for string quartet and tabla." This sounds almost classically conventional - until the tabla begins, but the percussion instrument makes for an intriguing addition to the string ensemble. This is in any case the most musically straightforward of these three tracks, and is well-rewarding.

So what to make of it? If you're adventurous, check it out. You probably won't be sorry.

Track listing: The Other Shore / Symultan / Gull.


Title: The Other Shore | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Leo Records


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