HUBAY: Works for Violin and Piano, Vol. 13 – Ferenc Szecsodi, violin/Istvan Kassai, piano – Hungaraton

HUBAY: Works for Violin and Piano, Vol. 13 = Scene de la Csarda, No. 13, Op. 102; Auf Silberschwingen; Vier Stuecke, Op. 95; Variations on a Hungarian Theme for Violin Solo; Hungarian March for Piano, Four Hands; Scene de la Csarda No. 14 on Themes by Lavotta, Op. 114; Adieu, Op. 111; LISZT-HUBAY: Hungarian Rhapsody “Die drei Zigeuner” – Ferenc Szecsodi, violin/Istvan Kassai, piano – Hungaraton HCD 32582, 72:52 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:

Jeno Hubay (1858-1937) helped establish the Hungarian violin school that embraced folk and gypsy traditions without preference, so long as they could illuminate a bravura technical idiom.  Inflamed and improvisatory, they conform to the lassu–friss format of the Hungarian rhapsody created by Liszt and extended by Bartok. The 13th of his Scenes in the Form of a Czardas (1908) has Jan Kubelik as its dedicatee. Auf Siberschwingen celebrates the silver anniversary of Hubay and Countess Roza Cebrain (1919), a lovely violin melody and watery arpeggios in the keyboard.  Having worked and played with Franz Liszt, Hubay often improvised on the 12th Hungarian Rhapsody of Liszt; but in 1929 Hubay reworked a transcription of a Liszt song written for Remenyi in 1864. Rather meandering, the piece exploits slurred and staccato passages, high flute trills, some pizzicati, finally settling into martial, swaggering gypsy tunes that any good Transylvanian horror movie would relish for the village inn scene.

The first of the Four Pieces, Op. 95 (1904) evokes a Wagnerian strain, namely a march from Tannhauser. Entitled “Brautzug,” it proceeds in martial-parlando style, the melody suave and confidently elastic. “Stella maris” projects a direct, melodic folk idiom, rather reminiscent of Grieg. “Vorbei. . .Marche funebre” sings its dirge in intimate, highly expressive terms, the figures in the keyboard familiar from Chopin and Liszt. The last piece, Woods-voices, Hubay added to the suite in 1907. Fluid in its idiosyncratically inflamed style, the piece sounds like modal Mendelssohn. The Hungarian Variations for Solo Violin (1923) alone survives among Hubay’s works in this medium, a clear allusion to Paganini‘s Caprice No. 24 in A Minor. Staccato and spiccato bowings combine with various applications of glissandi, bariolage, and (flute) harmonics to produce a spectacular etude for Hubay’s own use. The 1935 Marche Hongroise provides a musical curio in the manner of Schubert’s four-hand marches, assertive and catchy.  Hubay composed the Scene de la Csarda No. 14 (1921) as part of a memorial for verbunkos composer Janos Lavotta. Utilizing several of Lavotta’s own melodies, Hubay fashions a waltz tune or two, rife with arpeggios and modal scales for the violin. The latter pages resound with Liszt’s D-flat Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6. The piano part often invokes the gypsy cimbalom in the selfsame Liszt manner. Adieu (1919) is a romantic salon piece dedicated to Erna Rubinstein. Its spare harmonies and slinky gestures point to Satie as much as to Leo Wiener.

— Gary Lemco

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