The Great Hungarian Songbook, a series started by Müpa Budapest in 2014, sounds a bit like nostalgic and retro. However, if you peek into what is planned for the upcoming concert, you can see how contemporary it actually is – thanks to organiser Norbert Káel and his team.
When listening to the songs, you can recall stuff like the Gotan Project, which launched the “tango renaissance” movement, or the Nouvelle Vague that creates swing covers of new wave songs, and of course the Budapest Bar that has put a new and different spotlight to early 20th century Hungarian songs. But obviously, the name itself comes from a non-Hungarian source, the The Great American Songbook.
It has been an organic process in the United States, which has a much bigger pop culture scene than Hungary, to put chansons, Broadway musical songs and Hollywood film music on the programme regularly. Unfortunately, their Hungarian counterparts have had a much more difficult destiny due to the ever-changing political landscape of the country.
The Great Hungarian Songbook, and other similar initiatives, helped to rehabilitate this era a bit recently. The concept is to invite more and more singers to sing the songs. First it was István Hirtling and Eszter Nagy-Kálózy (latter also played the iconic singer Katalin Karády in a 2001 film!), and then Kátya Tompos and Nikolas Takács.
This time, Dénes Pál and Dóri Behumi will sing works by legendary Hungarian singers Pál Szécsi, Péter Máté and Kati Kovács. Dénes Pál won a talent show ten years ago and has been building a successful musical and television career ever since. Dóri Behumi és a voice of the above-mentioned Budapest Bar, who said the following about the upcoming concert:
“I make a special effort to have a different repertoire for every single request. All productions need to be worthy for yet another reason, all songs are done as part of yet another concept. Some songs were new to me. I have sung Kati Kovács a lot before, but even from her life works, I could discover new elements. They are also a technical challenge, as she is a great singer with a huge voice range, so these songs are quite difficult. I remember the duets of Zárai and Vámosi from my childhood, my grandfather used to listen to them from LPs whereas my cousins and I were jumping around on the sofa. They do not really represent my own taste but thanks to Norbert Káel, every song will sound a bit different from the original and closer to our own style.”
This is no surprise as renowned pianist Norbert Káel, who studied at the Berklee College in Boston, wants every song to sound a bit unfamiliar and excitingly new, so that they can be brought into this century. Káel, who both plays classical and jazz music, will receive some support by Péter Oláh (contrabass) and András Pecek Lakatos (percussions), his partners in the Jazzical Trio. Also, a trumpet, a saxophone, a guitar, and a string orchestra will join them – latter being led by Richárd Riederauer.
Article: Győző Nagy
Translation: Zsófia Hacsek