Liner Notes

During the 2009 European Tour, Sándor and I had two days off between cities. These two days were not really days off; though there were no concerts. Instead, these two days were recording days. And instead of being in a recording studio as was our usual process, we would be recording on-location. The location in this instance was an older church in the small village of Nógrád, Hungary.

The two-day recording schedule was as follows: the first day would be sessions for a duet album. The second day was to be a trio recording session with percussion artist Balázs Major; this album was released in 2010 and was titled Triptych. This was a milestone recording for me, as it was the first recording project I'd done with Balázs. I had been a fan of his work for some time, and after the recording sessions for Triptych, he and I have worked on a few other albums together, and even did a European tour together in 2012.

While the trio record was released the following year by Greydisc, the duet album languished in the vaults as so many other recording projects and album releases seemed to constantly brush it aside or take precedence. Now, some eleven years later, this album is finally being released. We titled the album after the name of the village where it was recorded: Nógrád.

The sessions began bright and early on a warm September morning. We were met in Nógrád by our friend Roland Heidrich; a fine guitarist in his own right, and also a knowledgeable and reliable recording engineer. Roland engineered the sessions for both days, and did a remarkable job.

When in the recording studio, Sándor and I will usually record for an hour or two, and then take a break to clear our minds and fingers. We may have a tea, or go for a short hike. On the Nógrád sessions, we would hike up the hill to the ruins of Castle Nógrád, a wonderful architectural artifact dating from the 9th century. The village seemed to be tacitly watched over and protected by the castle; it was clearly visible from the church where we were recording. The castle was located on a hill at the edge of the village. Hiking to, walking through, and climbing on the ruins of a 9th-century castle will certainly clear your head and put you into a new mental space. For me, entering an historic European castle feels like achieving time travel. The feeling of those who had lived there over the centuries and the rich history of this site were palpable, and I believe some of those spirits made their imprint on the compositions on this record. Furthermore, some of the ruins of Castle Nógrád are captured in the photo used as this album cover.

The fourteen compositions comprising this record were all recorded in one day. For the recording sessions, I was on 12-string baritone guitar and 12-string alto guitar. Since that time, I have moved on from those instruments to instruments with more strings and wider horizons. Yet these wonderful instruments is where I was artistically at that time, and this album presents a snapshot in time; an accurate depiction of the art of Sándor and I as we presented it on the concerts of the 2009 European Tour.

-- Kevin Kastning
   12 January 2020

Every recording has its own fate. Some are released at once and some just remain archived on a hard drive. Some releases appear in CDs and some only in a digital download format.

This music which we named as the Nógrád session was very important to me from the beginning for various reasons. It was recorded in a very intimate place: in a small church in an ancient village called Nógrád, in Nógrád county Hungary near my home town. This was the first recording in Hungary with Kevin. Though he could not bring his own 12-string baritone guitar for the 2009 European tour, he used my 12-string baritone and he played it as if it was his own. My impression was that the music we played sounded so fresh, composed, structured with logical connections between the parts, but it was totally improvised. It did not resemble any trendy duo acoustic guitar music. At that time and place we were pervaded by strong creative forces. We were very inspired. The music on the duo recording sounds as a whole, not like two players.  We managed to capture exceptional musical ideas.

The next day we had a trio session including Balázs Major on percussion. Kevin was so enthusiastic and satisfied with the result that the trio recording was released in a few months with the title Triptych overtaking the duo recording. Somehow, the duo album that would become Nógrád went unreleased for eleven years. Many years elapsed and I didn't know if the album would ever be released; slowly I just gave it up and I buried that music in myself.

But something happened, because last year quite unexpectedly Kevin began discussing a release of the Nógrád duo session. He started to discover and hear the music we created together. For me his playing was superb, very supportive, sensitive with ideas which in the context of my playing I could never imagine from another guitar player in the world. After many years I made a new master and the sessions are now released as a digital download album called Nógrád.
Special thanks to the recording engineer Roland Heidrich and László Hutton, who made the beautiful cover.

-- Sándor Szabó
   20 January 2020