What we saw instead was a whole band of virtuosos!
Roby Lakatos - as probably 90% of the rest of the people who filled the hall knew beforehand - is one of the world’s foremost violinists today. Trained in both the classical style of the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Budapest, where he studied for several years, and in the Hungarian Folk genre of the famous family of violinists from which he descended (János Bihari, ‘King of Gypsy Violinists’, was his anscestor), Lakatos and his group of Hungarian Romani musicians did not disappoint!
In addition to the showy, baron-esque outfit worn by Roby Lakatos, one of the first things that poked me in the eye when I looked at the stage was a strange-looking stringed instrument in a box, like a large auto-harp, or a dulcimer, but with foot pedals like a piano or a vibraphone. Turns out it is called a cimbalom, and was played in this case by Jeno Lisztes, with two felt hammers.
To hear this piece played on the cimbalom, and by so skilled a performer as Lisztes, was truly a delight: His mallets flew through the air, a blur of white felt, and the music was played so quickly (and the notes so perfectly), that one really felt the “buzz” of the Korsakov’s intended small insect, as the individual notes were in this case played almost too close together for the human ear to distinguish, resulting in a blur of sound that matched the visual effect produced by the musician’s felt hammers!
I was very impressed, and was joined in my mid-concert standing ovation by many other members of the audience.
Roby Lakatos’ style is a fiery blend of classical and jazz, with constant overtones of gypsy, making his musical genre fusion in the truest sense of the word.
It’s not often I am exposed to “new” music these days. I seem to have fallen into a habit of listening to the same old favourites, both on my iPod, and when going to see live music. Last night’s concert was a pleasant break from said routine!