Notes and Editorial Reviews
We seem to be in the midst of a mini-Hubay revival--not that there's anything wrong with that! This new disc comes into competition with Hungaroton's set of the complete (4) violin concertos featuring Vilmos Szabadi, though that set does not include the Variations on a Hungarian Theme Op. 72. Hyperion certainly has the better orchestra and more brilliant sound. Hagai Shaham plays like a major virtuoso, always front and center: he's fearless in passage-work, attacks the big cadenza in the Third Concerto's finale like a tiger, manages excruciatingly high positions with aplomb (in the Variations especially), and genuinely seems to be enjoying himself with this beautifully crafted music. That said, Szabadi shows himself to be more sensitive to
matters such as dynamic nuance, while sacrificing nothing in technical mastery. He phrases a bit more characterfully (in the Fourth Concerto especially), has a smoother tone overall, and interacts more readily with his colleagues in the orchestra. Both soloists really play well: it's just that the basic approaches differ and I'd be very hard pressed to choose between them.
Now a word about this music: these are superior works by a very fine composer who certainly was more than just a virtuoso who decided to write some stuff for his instrument. The Third Concerto, in four movements with the emphasis on the finale (as in the concertos of Dvorák and Bruch), represents a high point in late-Romantic writing for the violin. The orchestration is gorgeous: note the tasteful use of the harp throughout and colorful percussion writing in the scherzo, not to mention the top quality melodic craftsmanship.
In the finale of the Variations, Shaham pours on the tone lavishly, but the way that Hubay contrives the accompaniment so that every note of the solo remains clear while maintaining the impression of a full and forceful orchestral presence--this is masterful composition indeed. The Fourth Concerto reveals the composer broadening his style to include a witty neo-classicism, particularly in the second movement Corrente e Musette. In short, Hubay was a composer of substance, and this disc makes a very strong case for him. Do try to hear it.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Variations on a Hungarian Song by Jenö Hubay
Hagai Shaham (Violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Be the first to review this title