The music of Hungarian violinist and composer Jenö Hubay was almost unknown outside his home country just a few years ago, but several new releases have resuscitated his appealing music. The works of this Hungarian academic sound conservative as compared with those of Liszt even though he was active nearly a half century later, but they're never less than distinctive and personal. In addition to violin music he wrote about 100 songs. Some have Hungarian national characteristics, but the ones on this disc, all in German or French, follow Western European mainstream molds. Even working within such constraints, Hubay infuses well-worn forms with real feeling. Sample the Quatre Mélodies, Op. 23, to French texts by the Romanian female poet Elena Vacarescu (tracks 11-15) and hear how Hubay's flexible, semi-declamatory melodic language adjusts itself to unusual imagery like that of "Chante quelque vielle ballade" (Sing an Old Ballad). The following four "Lieder einer Rose, Op. 36," written by Hubay to texts by his fiancée, are German Romantic love songs of the warmest sort. Singers would profit from internalizing the contents of this disc, if only to consider trying to outdo the younger Hungarian artists featured here. French of mezzo-soprano Andrea Meláth is heavily accented, and she sometimes seems disconnected from the words; at the climax of "Au bord de l'eau" (At the Waterside), track 9, she seems angry at, rather than enraptured by, the man with whom she is supposed to be enjoying a romantic afternoon on a shoreline. Tenor András Molnár has plenty of power at the top of his range but approaches middle pitches hesitantly. Inclusion of these works on a program by a top-notch specialist in either the German lied or the French mélodie would startle a recital audience with something new and different.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Five Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 8|
|Five Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 17|
|Four Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 23|
|Egy rózsa dalai (Songs of a Rose), for voice & piano, Op. 36|
|Five Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 53|