Brahms' fascination with the Hungarian musical idiom permeates many of his compositions. Likely the most overt example of his affinity for the style is his set of 21 Hungarian Dances, originally composed as a piano duo. Since that time, the dances have been arranged for various instruments and ensembles; the present album features the transcription made by the cello virtuoso Alfred Piatti. They are performed by cellist Nancy Green and Frederick Moyer. Green's playing on this particular disc is the most vibrant, technically commanding, confident, and authoritative that she has produced in memory. She gives listeners everything they would hope for in a quintessential "Hungarian" sound: gritty, meaty playing, exciting tempo changes, brusque articulation, and vibrant dynamic contrasts. Sadly, JRI Recording's sound quality all but nullifies all of these positive attributes. Whether as a result of Green's instrument, the microphone placement, or (more likely) some combination of the two, the overall product is unacceptably muddy and indistinct, particularly when Green goes below her D string. Higher up in her instrument's range, listeners can enjoy the full effect of her fine playing, but the bottom half of the instrument is all but lost. The same sound issues plague the piano, whose lower half if murky at best, and particularly in dense, loud passages, produces nothing more than a wash of sound.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Three Fantasy Pieces, after Hungarian national melodies|