Marta Sebestyen – I Can See the Gates of Heaven…

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COMPOSERS: Márta Sebestyén
LABELS: World Village
WORKS: I can see the gates of heaven…
PERFORMER: Márta Sebestyén (vocals, tin whistle, drum), Balázs Szokolay Dongó (bagpipes, flutes, fujara, tárogató, sax, overtone chanting), Mátyás Bolya (oriental lute, zither)


The leading light of Hungarian folk music, Márta Sebestyén, is best known for her haunting contribution to the soundtrack of The English Patient. She’s been somewhat off the radar in recent years, but this new disc of Carpathian folk and religious songs is a welcome return to her cherished roots.

The austere, all-acoustic arrangements feature just two other musicians, who expertly frame Sebestyén’s gorgeous, ornamented vocals with breathy, rustic flutes, earthy bagpipes, and ethereal, silvery strings.


The sound is rich in delicate harmonics, so it makes sense when Balázs Szokolay Dongó opens ‘Heritage’ with some startlingly authentic-sounding Central Asian overtone chanting. Most pieces are neatly segued medleys, none more exquisite than ‘Vision’, which marries material collected by Béla Bartók with a lullaby. At its close, Sebestyén croons wordlessly, just like one of the old village women that have inspired her throughout an illustrious career. Jon Lusk