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"Antlerswood" - BRAN

Has interest in Irish traditional music no bounds? It would appear not. Even as far afield as Hungary, there seems an insatiable appetite for this remote western seaboard, Gaelic, tonic solfa.

The Association of Irish Music, Comahaltas, is very proud of its branch in Budapest. The city also has an Irish Dancing school run by Ronan Morgan, and he has the distinct advantage of having excellent live Irish music provided by local band Fianna.

Some say Celtic tribes came from this area of Central Europe before their westward drift to Ireland and Britain and if that is the case, small wonder that music is second nature to them. Certainly this area, musically identified with Transylvania, has a strong bias towards fast fiddle and flute dance music, and also folk singing based on mythology and epic tales.

Enter one Gábor Kovács to the link. Gábor is a hugely competent musician and lecturer in Celtic Mythology at Budapest University. He spent the early '90s studying Irish music at Cork University, studying Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Pádraig Ó Riain, Máire Herbert and Mel Mercier. He went back to Hungary and formed the band BRAN, of local musicians. Their ten years tenure suggests they are a quality item and here to stay. This CD, their third album, confirms this. It is exceptional quality, traditional Irish music, mixed and complimented by Hungarian counterpart and folk songs. Gábor is greatly influenced by O'Carolan, and Turlough's Concerto theme runs troughout the album. There is a strong, intellectual and clever feel about this music, such that you might be inclined to call the band an 'ensemble' - yet it is superemly 'listenable' to the untutored ear - the best music in any genre is.

It is also very identifiably Irish, with lovely jigs 'n' reels, and traditional sounds - bodhrán is superb and there is a very 'Brian Finnegan' slant to many of the whistle pieces.

Their playing is hugely competent, balanced and smooth.

One can only imagine, Gábor must be tremendously proud of this CD, should it end up on the shelves of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin's music references in Limerick University, a wonderful testimony to that centre of musical excellence, that is the catalyst for gifted artists to go forth and express their gift.

Well done Hungarians - clever stuff.

Source : Irish Dancing Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9, September 2002, Page 27