Charles Castleman, violin/Mendi Rohan conducts Eastman Chamber
Orchestra/Historic Violinists: Jeno Hubay, Joseph Szigeti, Emil
Telmanyi, Mary Zentay, Jelly D‚ Aranyi, Franz von Vecsey, Maurice
Eisner, Ibolyka Zilzer, Harry Solloway, Ibolyka Gyarfas
Music & Arts CD-1164 (2 discs) 68:11; 66:00 (Distrib. Albany)****:
The two CDs in this set comprise an extended homage to Jeno Hubay
(1858-1937) who helped found the Hungarian violin school,
exemplified by Hubay’s great pupil Joseph Szigeti, who applied the
romantic idiom to the applications of Hungarian folk song provided by
Bartok, Kodaly, Dohnanyi, and Weiner. Charles Castleman, who won some
notice from me a few years ago for his performances of the Ysaye Op. 27
Solo Sonatas on the Nonesuch label, plays the 14 nationalistic pieces
for violin and piano called Scenes from the Csarda (Tavern) composed
1880-1920. For my money most of Hubay’s works on these discs derive
from a few key sources: Magyar folk-gypsy tradition, Sarasate
(particularly his Zigeunerweisen), Bazzini’s Ronde de Lutins, and the
rhapsodic forms established by Liszt and used by Bartok in his Op. 1.
That much of this music sounds like Monti’s Csardas is no accident.
Most of the works begin with a slow cadenza passage – a lassu, then a
swirling quick dance – a friss. Hubay also wrote an opera: The Violin
Maker of Cremona, whose Intermezzo provided another vehicle for
rhetorical violin display.
The collectors’ portion of the set, in addition to the suave execution
by Castleman and Mendi Rohan in the Csardas pieces, are the fifteen
cuts played by Hubay himself (1928) as well as an impressive contingent
of his acolytes. Not all of the shellacs had recording dates attached,
but one caught my eye: the Scena de la Csarda No. 2 with Emil Telmanyi
and the Budapest Orchestra from 1942 under Ferenc Fricsay. Jelly
D’Aranyi, Joachim’s grandniece whose recording of a Brahms Trio in C
with Hess and Cassado I once owned, plays Poem Hongroise from an early
acoustic with Ethel Hobday. Telmanyi also appears in a rare 1935 cut of
Les Fileuses with Gerald Moore – an unreleased HMV inscription.
Telmanyi appears in the latest recording, a 1959 Hejre Kati with
Annette Telmanyi. Joseph Szigeti has as one of his accompanists my own
favorite Andor Foldes in a 1941 Scena de la Csarda No. 3. Another
popular artist, Franz von Vecsey – who made a fine inscription of the
Dvorak Concerto with Paul van Kempen – plays the Intermezzo from The
Violin Makers of Cremona. Warm expressive music played by masters of
the idiom, a most unusual and satisfying couple of discs.