Ferenc Kiss is most well known from his membership of Kolinda and Vizöntő, although the last years he made only solo albums. Solo means here that a large number of the finest Hungarian top musicians contribute to his projects. On Szerelemajtók these are for instance: Zsigmond Lázár and Csaba Ökrös (violin), Mihály Huszár (double base), Attila Korom (guitar), Sándor Tóth (viola), Kálmán Balogh (cimbalom) and dozens of others.


Kiss himself plays the violin and performs the lead vocals. Kiss’ music sounds like a contemporary symphony with folk music. His albums are usually thematic in character. This time, the theme is Béla Bartók, composer and field worker born 125 years ago in Sannicolaul Mare in Romania, called Nagyszentmiklós in his time. Ferenc Kiss arranged traditional Hungarian melodies and songs, composed some own songs and tunes in the line of tradition and collected this material in seven tracks. These tracks are mini suites in their own, playing time at least 5 minutes each, ranging until 13 minutes. He mixes several elements together, like songs, tunes and intermezzi. When listening it seems you do not only hear the music, but also the visual senses get to work. Especially Valley of the ballads is a marvelous piece. A mix of some beautiful Hungarian songs, sung by Bea Palya, Ági Szalóki and Kati Szvorák. These have a rather melancholic character or are sung with the typical Hungarian “speech-like” singing style. Kiss takes on the role of storyteller. In between a diverse number of Hungarian instrumentals are presented as gifts, having a remarkable higher tempo. It is perfect that Kiss and the others are able to keep the tension in the rather long tracks, all over the album. Many things happen, without being over fed. A lot of emotion in the music, a lot of power. You encounter thrilling passages but also silent moments. Despite the language (which I don’t understand) it seems you can understand exactly what the music is all about. The CD digipack is very nice, a short English intro, and beautiful photo’s. Szerelemajtók is probably the best contemporary Hungarian folk album that I have heard up to today. Maybe Kiss writes history with this album, just as his illustrious predecessor Bartók.


Written by Marius Roeting (NewFolkSounds)