Tibor Szemzö

Danube Exodus (Dunai Exodus)

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Danube Exodus is a typical Tibor Szemzó album, the kind you will surely appreciate if you are a fan and the kind that won't turn you into a fan if you are not one already. Despite its lack of surprises, it serves up another exquisite 50 minutes of laid-back instrumental music in Szemzó's highly original style. Danube Exodus was written as both a stand-alone piece and the accompaniment for a film by longtime collaborator Peter Forgacs. The subject: eight mm films of Nándor Andrásovits, the captain of the Queen Elizabeth who shot a lot of footage during two journeys. On the first one he helped Hungarian Jews escape to Palestine in the summer of 1939. A year later, his ship served to expatriate the population of Bessarabia to Germany. The music has little to do with the images (although three excerpts are included on the CD in mpeg format). The composer's peaceful washes of sounds and minimal melodies ooze a serenity that surely wasn't in the hearts of the refugees. Szemzó is accompanied by his Gordion Knot Company, this time brought back to their core trio from the mid-'90s: Szemzó (bass flute), Tamás Tóth (bass guitar, double bass), and Péter Magyar Összekötó (drums). A cast of nine extra musicians adds light touches of strings, reeds, horns, keyboards, and vocals. More modest in some aspects than The Other Shore and Invisible Story, Danube Exodus is genuine Szemzó: balm for the soul, long, repeated waves of compassion with a touch of nostalgia translated into a musical form that, as rigid and restrictive as it may have become with time, remains his own.

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