Leó Weiner, a contemporary of Bartók and Kodály, was a profoundly important teacher in Budapest whose own music developed from a more traditional Romantic model – exemplified by the songful Románc, Op. 29 – to an absorption of his native Hungarian folk music during the 1930s. The two Divertimentos for strings, vibrantly orchestrated sequences of dances, are among the best-known works of this period. The later Hungarian Nursery Rhymes and Folk Songs draw on some archaic and very popular native melodies. Volumes 1 and 2 can be heard on 8.573491 and 8.573847. This is Volume 3 of Valéria Csányi’s ongoing series of the complete orchestral works by Weiner, with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV.Read more Vol. 1 includes the complete ballet C song or and Tünde (8.573491)in which Gramophone wrote that ‘Csányi shapes the score as if she really loves it’, while Fanfare stated that ‘this disc represents a charming discovery.’
This is the fourth disc in Naxos’ survey of the orchestral music of Leó Weiner—each performed by the same artists as here. All of these CDs have been impressively and idiomatically performed and the repertoire is valuable in expanding the knowledge of Weiner’s work outside his native Hungary. For those discovering his music for the first time, this disc might be the best introduction to his work of the series so far.
In terms of both musical content and simple length, the Pastorale, Fantasy and Fugue Op.23 is the most substantial work on this disc. The use of folk-inspired melodic and rhythmic shapes is unmistakable but none of these are explicitly folk-derived although the fugal finale does draw on a traditional Hungarian bagpipe song. This is certainly a work that deserves to be more widely known and played outside of its native Hungary.
This well recorded, confidently played programme cements the attractive music of Leo Weiner as being well-worth performing. With the exception of the Op.23, this is essentially quite light but very enjoyable music that benefits from sympathetic and idiomatic performances. István Kassai’s English-only liner is very helpful highlighting information about both the music and this relatively unfamiliar composer.