Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Music of Hungarian Gypsies

This musical Rough Guide—featuring Hungary’s most popular Gypsy folk groups—is a relaxing listen. It’s a lively one as well. Hungarian Gypsy music, born in Hungary’s workaday countryside, speaks of both the hardships of being poor and of the joys of having fun playing music and dancing. Romanyi Rota’s “T’Avos Devla Barvalo” (“If I Were Rich, Dear God”) is a plaintive song about a Gypsy asking God why he has to suffer so much. A number of songs on the disc feature the exotic tones of the cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer popular in Hungary and countries nearby. World-famous Hungarian cimbalom player Kálmán Balogh appears on two cuts—with his Gypsy Cimbalom Band on the speedy and cheery “Calasul Dance,” and with Romano Kokolo on a “stick dance” song, “Botolo.” Widely known raucous brass ensemble Fanfare Ciocarlia’s “Duj Duj” is a sassy song that almost makes you want to march around the house. The song’s entertaining female vocals sound traditional, techno and wacky all at the same time.