Review: Matyas Bacsó album

Screenshot 2019-11-03 at 10.48.41 AMMy dear friend and Tubular Bells Live lead singer, Matyas Bacsó has recorded a wonderful album of his own neo-classical solo piano music – composed over the last few years and performed in Sheffield on a lovely rich Bösendorfer during 2019. Many of our Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan friends will remember performances in our concert series when Matyas was the talented and fun loving accompanist under my baton.

The album is compiled from selected pieces representing various aspects of everyday life. Fragments of the big picture: family, home, work, travelling, the change of seasons, birth and passing, belief and hope. They represent a story, a concept, or observation taken from his family and from experiences from daily life.

Recently premiered at the Headgate Theatre, you can purchase this online from 5th November 2019: CLICK HERE  I recommend buying the bilingual CD release (not only to brush up on your Hungarian) but for the full programme notes for each track.

Here is a track by track analysis:

FRAGMENTS (from everyday life)

The Family Feast – According to Matyas’ memoirs, the centre of Hungarian family life and celebrations is food! His grandmother Mama runs back and forth preparing for the family feast. This track is a triumphant fanfare with many influences coming through including those rhapsodic Hungarian moments, deliciously thematic but with a slight improvised feel, which would have been honed to the full structure. The jazzy yet dissonant central section portrays the tiredness after the feast but this rapidly rises to the challenge of a new day (and more food!) with its celebratory Eb major themes.

Romance in the Park – This piece is about the exhilarating, uplifting feeling that a carefree couple in love experiences, walking in the park hand in hand. A really special moment, which one wishes could last forever. Matyas’ effortless piano skills shine through with sweeping arpeggios under a beautiful melodic line, decorated itself with triplets and harmonies.

Amalfi Coast – The composition describes two completely different sides of the Amalfi experience. The first part is about the captivating, amazingly steep, rocky coastline, the stunningly blue sea and the colourful houses in the sunshine. The second part is about the experience of hiring a car as a foreign visitor and driving along the narrow and frightfully zig-zaggy, serpentine roads and marvelling at the local driving style! Matyas’ romantic style is reminiscent of Rachmaninoff here, beautifully melodic and expressive – but leading into a Dave Grusin or neo-Gershwin boogie-woogie – complete with honking car horns – which always go down well with audiences.  Of course Matyas can’t resist quoting the Amalfi melody over the top of the boogie left hand, climbing up the mountain roads. Matyas shows two sides of his compositional and performing talents – beauty and fun!

Lullaby – Written as a one-off improvisation after the birth of his daughter, this gentle lullaby captures a moment.

Birds in the Garden – Observations of a family of blackbirds inspired this expressive exploration of melody and lush magical harmonies in Matyas’s broad romantic style.

Sunday Morning – This piece is about the very pleasant feeling when, after a week of hard work, one wakes up Sunday morning and realises that it’s a day off, no need to go to work! This relaxed ballad is also perfect for a late night quiet cosy and night in!

Colours of Autumn –  Peacefully falling leaves, pleasantly warm October day. As you are watching the awe-inspiring colour parade of the autumnal forest, it does not seem real, you almost can’t believe your eyes. The autumn often awakens melancholic feelings in one’s soul. How can something, that is essentially the messenger of evanescence, be so grandiose and magical? This programmatic track would be ideal as an opening to a soundtrack for an art-film, pushing the boundaries of pan-tonality and parallel major triads towards Ravel.

Anticipation – This composition is about anticipating fate from the perspective of the relatives and people left behind. One’s brain knows that it has to happen, but the heart protests against the thought. A beautifully reflective ballad.

Prayer – This piece works as an independent composition, but it also provides a melody to enable the Hungarian version of the Lord’s Prayer to be sung. 

Overall, this is a collection of beautiful and expressive piano works performed almost effortlessly but with much emotion and feeling. Bravo, Matyas!