Tcha Limberger

Press

CD REVIEW – Budapest Gypsy Orchestra – Songlines

06.05.2009 – Bura Termett Ido

A heady whiff of a romantic old world

‘There is a keen musical archaeology at work in this ambitious project, produced by Lejazzetal and recorded live in the UK last May by Belgian Gypsy violinist and composer Tcha Limberger. The title songs means ‘Time Darkened By Sorrow’ and was Limberger’s first exposure to the Magyar Nota Gypsy orchestra tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The music envelopes you with the widescreen, cinematic sweep and sweetness of old movies and vanished empires, the aural equivalent of a grand old perfume unstoppered for the first time in a century, and filling the room with the musky redolence of a vanished order.
Magyar Nota means ‘Hungarian Song’ and though it may still be heard in the pricier tourist restaurants of Budapest, it is not as popular as it was. Limberger sets out to reclaim the music and see it ‘re-appreciated in it’s essential form’, with the musicians behind him picked from the best in Budapest, combining cimbalom, clarinet, brac, double bass and cello.
Much of the repertoire is instrumental – it is not noted for original, poetic or compelling lyrics – and combines ‘rude’ folk traditions with operetta, Viennese waltzes, Russian songs and popular songs of the era. Limberger spent 18 months in Budapest studying Magyar Nota with Gypsy violinist Horvat Bela, and his immersion in the style is total. He leads the orchestra via a structured improvisation that can weave any number of elements together at the tip of a hat. The orchestra follows the lead down to the smallest eddies of melody and rhythm, and the playing is as intoxicating as a vintage dessert wine’

TIM CUMMING