Notes and Editorial Reviews
Who actually wrote Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dances? Brahms probably heard most of these tunes as a child growing up in Hamburg, played by the Gypsy orchestras that were famous for their “Hungarian” dance tunes. These passionate and high-spirited melodies fascinate with their abrupt changes of mood, fanciful reveries and extravagant embellishments. Brahms may even have written a few of the melodies himself! But his hand is evident in the lush harmonies and emotional depth. This version for violin and piano was arranged by Brahms’ friend Joseph Joachim, the greatest violinist of his generation. The dances are played brilliantly by violinist Sabrina-Vivian Hopcker, who captures flawlessly the wild exuberance and deep sorrow of these alluring
tunes. Fabio Bidini is the ideal collaborator, and together they have produced an album of uncommon beauty and appeal.
There is no way that Brahms’s original piano four-hands version or his arrangements for piano two hands of these dances could ever achieve the tonal variety and coloristic effects of these Joachim arrangements for violin and piano. Perhaps the various arrangements for orchestra might, but it would be near to impossible to get a large number of players to play with the freedom, flexibility, and flare that just two players—specifically, these two players, Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker and Fabio Bidini—bring to this music. I can absolutely guarantee that you have never heard Brahms’s Hungarian Dances played this way before, and once you do, I take no responsibility for your overwhelming urge to put together a Gypsy costume from your local thrift store. This is a must-hear and a must-have for everyone!
– Fanfare (Jerry Dubins) Read less
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