Roby Lakatos And His Ensemble
When you’re born into a family of generations of famous violinists, what do you do? Mess with classics , of course. Roby Lakatos is one of the most agreeable rebels you’ll find. Nonetheless, he’s often referred to as the ‘devil’s fiddler’.
Somewhere towards the top of Lakatos’ family tree, you’ll find Janos Bihari, broadly regarded as the King Of Gypsy Violinists. It’s hard to ascertain what he’d think of his descendants’ take on the art, an ever-shifting fusion of gypsy with jazz, classical and Latin influences to name a few.
Apart from Lakatos himself and second violinist, Lászlo Bóni (who studied with Lakatos’ father), the ensemble is a collection of relatively young musicians, born in the late ‘80s, some of which were Lakatos’ students or whom he’s come across in his travels. Jeno Lisztes plays cimbalom (metal strings played with beaters), Laszlo Balogh is the solo guitarist, Robert Fehér plays Double Bass and Frantisek Janoska is the Pianist. All were born in Budapest, aside from Janoska, who was born in Bratislava.
“They are all really fantastic musicians,” says Lakatos, “I have a new energy in the band.” Lakatos has visited Brisbane before, but this is his first tour to Australia with this ensemble. “We have a very large program, and a very special program,” he says, “[There will be] all kinds of music, but with a very gypsy style. Of course the French gypsy music, a lot of Latin- from Mexico or El Salvador; and all this music mixed with Russian gypsy music, Balkan gypsy music and of course a lot of Hungarian gypsy music.”
More than adept at executing the classics perfectly, whether they be slow waltzes or dizzingly fast gypsy pieces, Lakatos is happiest when he’s improvising. “My favourite music is improvisation,” he says. “We never play the same concert twice, because I don’t like when I play on the stage and people are sleeping. I prefer people dancing, it’s much better. At the beginning of the concert, I play all kinds of styles so I can see what the people like and sometimes I change the program for the people. I prefer all the people dancing in the hall, so it’s not really a classical concert – I play classical, of course I play a lot of classical and I love very much the classical music but I play with freedom.”
Accordingly, the ensemble has been put together of musicians who can adapt to classical, jazz and traditional gypsy music. “All of the members in the band play with freedom,” says Lakatos, who supports each member of the ensemble to contribute to the group’s ever-evolving direction.
For all the exhilaration of improvisation though, Lakatos is aware that with his name and his reputation, some people are coming for the classics. “I think it is important in Australia to play a little bit more Hungarian music, because I think a lot of Hungarian people come for the culture. Last time, in Brisbane, a lot of Hungarians came because all these people know my family, the name, because my father and my grandfather and my uncle, the greatest violin player. So people in Australia love this name, so I would like to play a program with a lot of Hungarian songs, very old songs first.”
You can bet though, that if there’s not dancing, the tone will soon change.
Roby Lakatos And His Ensemble play at The Melbourne Recital Centre in The Elizabeth Murdoch Hall on Tuesday December 14 and Wednesday December 15 at 7.30pm. Tickets range from $60(C Reserve) to $100 (Premium Reserve) and concession prices are available. For more info head to melbournerecital.com.au.