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Before coming to this recording I knew very little about the composer Jenö Hubay. Seeing his dates (1858-1937) and that he was Hungarian, I thought he might be something of a lesser-known Bartok or Kodaly and I hoped for music filled with pungent tonalities and spicy rhythms. Not really. Hubay was of German extraction, a disciple of violinist Joseph Joachim and a friend of Franz Liszt and Henri Vieuxtemps, among others. You can see where this is going, yes? Hubay's music is flashy, accessible and a pure delight for virtuoso violinists. I found it unbearably tedious.
This is purely my personal take on things. I'm not a big fan of the 19th century violinist/composer school and really can't sit through concertos of Paganini, Vieuxtemps, Spohr, or any of those guys. All of that being said, the two concertos are well-crafted and filled with some really lovely tunes, especially in the slow movements of the concertos. Problem for me was that most of this sounded so vacuous that my mind kept thinking, "I really wish I was listening to the violinist (the superb Chloë Hanslip) playing the Brahms Concerto or Sibelius or Bartok." My misery was compounded by the two shorter pieces: Scènes de la Csárda Nos. 3 and 4. I detest what composers from the 19th century violin school do with Gypsy music, so all I could do was sit through it and immediately play a Taraf de haidouks CD to clean out my ears.
Hanslip is a breathtakingly fine violinist and she is ably supported by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. I only wish she would go after more contemporary repertoire - her recording of the John Adams Violin Concerto is life-changing. But if she continues down the path of playing music by such composers as Bazzini, Godard and Hubay, I'll just wait outside until she gets it out of her system.