Composer and violinist Jenö Hubay was almost completely unknown outside his native Hungary in the 1990s, and the frequency with which his music is showing up on recordings and concert programs is testimony to the depth of the shift occurring in the repertoire of classical music as self-serving modernism gives way to a more catholic view of the musical world. Hubay lived and taught violin in Budapest until his death in 1937, but his compositions were concentrated in the last years of the nineteenth century. The Hungaroton label has embarked on a complete recorded edition of his works, of which this is the tenth volume. As might have been expected of a touring violinist of his age, Hubay's music, primarily written for his own use, is divided between salon pieces and those of a more nationalist cast. The "Danse diabolique" from the Trois morceaux, Op. 10, a work that would have been known to many a concertgoer a century ago, is stronger in its introductory flourish than in the tune to which it resolves. Hubay is at his best in the works with a more Hungarian flavor; although he did not have a strikingly original vision of how to transfer folk pieces into a concert idiom, his works in this vein suggest that it must have been quite something to see him in action as a violinist. The three works entitled "Scènes de la csárda" on this disc are semi-improvised fantasies that Hubay based on Hungarian folk tunes and notated after the fact. The very last one contains a melody later collected in the field by Zoltán Kodály among its several preexisting bases. (The timing of 3' 38" given for that track, incidentally, is off by about 100 percent.) Violinist Ferenc Szecsödi and pianist István Kassai don't have quite the stirring quality one might hope for in musicians interpreting virtuoso music of this period, but everything about their performance is adequate for those who want to explore this forgotten Hungarian figure.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Scenes from Czardas No. 9 for violin & piano ("Czinka Panna's Tune"), Op. 65|
|Morceaux (3) 'Három darab', Op. 10|
|Scenes from Czardas No. 10 for violin & piano (or orchestra) ("Szalatnai emlék" (Memory of Szalatna)), Op. 69|
|Mazurkas for violin & piano in G minor, Op. 45/2|
|Morceaux (3), Op. 58|
|Scenes from Czardas No. 11 for violin & piano ("The Willow's Withered Branch"), Op. 82|