Roby Lakatos & Ensemble
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Roby Lakatos & Ensemble
Fire Dance
Avanti Classic (www.avanticlassic.com)

Lakatos and his ensemble are all incredibly gifted musicians. This recording is a lush collection of gypsy, jazz, and classical music. So sumptuous is it that it practically drowns you in waves of overwrought, hair-tearing, handkerchief-drenching emotion. Violinist Lakatos has all of the tone and technique of Joshua Bell with none of Bell's restraint. Michel Legrand's "Papa Can You Hear Me," from the Barbra Streisand weeper Yentl, is smarmy enough without all the gushing piano arpeggios and sobbing violin lines. They wring all the beauty out of the simple Japanese tune "Sakura" with sweeping crescendos and dog-whistle-range fiddling. The "lite" jazz ballad "Django" has so little to do with Django Reinhardt's music that it must be a paean to someone else with that name. The classic "Que reste-t-il de nos amours" starts out promising, but then degenerates into that scat-singing-along-with-the-guitar thing that George Benson did ad nauseum.

The entire disc is so over the top that it's exhausting to listen to. What could have been a fine set of well-played music gets bogged down in Liberace-like show-offyness. There are things that work, however. The piano and cimbalom, two instruments that usually work at cross-purposes, manage to find common ground here. The musicianship all around is top-notch. It would be wonderful to hear some sincere connection to the music from these guys, rather than the self-indulgent displays of pyrotechnics they give us here. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdroots
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