“We are Hungarian, but we also play…” and the list of musical influences on traditional Hungarian folk music—traditions of China, Turkey, parts of the Middle East, and, of course, Croat and Serbian music—flowed as Söndörgő took the Elebash Recital Hall Stage for the opening concert of the Live@365 Global Music Series. Surveying the room, the group, comprised of four brothers and a childhood friend, seemed genuinely thrilled to be finishing up their first US tour, and said they would be back for more soon.
Söndörgő hails from a small suburb of Budapest, and forsakes the more traditional fiddle led Hungarian groups for the perfervid rhythms made possible by the tambura, a mandolin like instrument with which they have become closely associated. Their wild blend of Eastern European dance music and a virtuosic handle on a variety of instruments, made for a party that could hardly be contained by the Recital Hall, which had people dancing in the aisles and shouting during the show.
Söndörgő’s sound consists largely of upbeat dance numbers. Of particular note were two songs towards the middle of the performance, Marice, a folk tale of a girl who is the “envy of every man along the Danube.” The nostalgic Croatian theme gave rise to solos played with abandon and a constant creative spark which the band members seem to inspire in each other.
Though most of the evening consisted of relentlessly danceable tunes, Hulusination, a Macedonian folk song, was a notable exception. The minor key ballad was a mashup of rich Middle Eastern styles and Chinese flute music. The sinuous flute wound its way around the trumpet and wailful clarinet solos for a sound that, for the most part, avoided cultural cliches, and created an achingly beautiful and poignant sound.
The young group would do well to occasionally dial it back as they seem to get ahead of themselves and whirl faster and faster occasionally losing track of their solo entrances in their own excitement. Any fault in that area comes only from their youthful exuberance, and if it slightly holds them back now, it will only contribute as they learn to control it in growth and maturation. The group has a deep well of music that they expertly draw from, to and if this emotionally charged performances is any indication, hopefully they will tour the states again soon.