Márta Sebestyén

I Can See the Gates of Heaven...: Hungarian Religious And Secular Songs

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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson

Márta Sebestyén is best known for her work with Muzsikás as well as for her contribution to the soundtrack of The English Patient, but the Hungarian singer has released a number of solo discs. This is a very worthy addition to her canon. With Sebestyén accompanied by two multi-instrumentalists on a range of instruments (eight of them) as well as her own whistle and drum playing, this is far less stripped-down than it might seem. There's a fullness to her singing and to the arrangements that makes these songs leap out of the speakers. The music is a mix of secular and religious songs from Sebestyén's homeland, all traditional and largely kept alive by the oral tradition. These versions do offer a reinvention of sorts, taking them out of their old, largely a cappella context, but they keep close to the raw heart of the material, finding the sharp beauty of the songs. It's been too long since Márta Sebestyén issued a disc, so that makes this glittering return doubly welcome.

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