A feast for Hubay fans.
The first disc is devoted to some of
Hubay’s Scènes de la Csarda
in performances by Charles Castleman
with the Eastman Chamber Orchestra conducted
by Mendi Rodan. And the second is a
selection of historic 78s made by Hubay
(one side) and his pupils. The whole
thing is wrapped up by biographical
and documentary information worthy of
Castleman is just the
man for the Csardas. He demonstrates
the silkiest of portamentos in Op.60
whilst his harmonics are spot-on and
his throbby vibrato extracts just the
right quality of juice for it. The buoyant
maritime delights of Op.18 surrender
to such idiomatic playing. The harp
is well balanced in Op.13. Its cimbalon
evocations are adroitly done and the
violin’s melancholy entry sets the scene.
This multi-partite work is very difficult
to put across without splintering; it
works fine here. There’s some distinguished
clarinet playing in Op.83. And Castleman,
who must be very used to such things,
relishes the Sarasate-drenched dramas
of Op.41 Kossuth’s Song in this
orchestration by Eastman graduate David
Wish. But Castleman is just as adept
at the more elegantly phrased aristocracies
invoked by Hubay as he richly shows
in Op.33 [The waves of Lake Balaton].
The depth of his rhythmic and tonal
qualities are perhaps best savoured
in Op.117, the last of the pieces presented
here. Castleman’s evocative tonal reach
in his lower strings is a real tonic.
How unusual to hear Hejre Kati in
its orchestral garb for once.
After Castleman’s contemporay
elegance and panache we turn to a second
disc packed with figures both great
and smaller. The Master is here, from
a side made in 1928 when he was seventy.
He’s followed in turn by d’Aranyi in
a fine sounding acoustic Vocalion and
the collectable Harry Solloway on Polydor.
Solloway was a fine player and is a
particular enthusuasm of mine but the
endemic Hubay vibrato problem can be
heard in his otherwise splendid playing.
It’s very useful to have given us two
sides by Ibolyka Zilzer, who is otherwise
a forgotten figure. Ibolyka Gyárfás,
recorded around the end of the First
World War, also displays the endemically
slow vibrato, especially in the lower
strings, that so plagued some Hubay
The Mary Zentay Edison
is not so common so we can put up with
the recessed sound-stage though again
her slack vibrato is a problem. The
early Vecsey Fonotipia is in good estate,
nicely transferred, and in better nick
than my own copy. The transfer engineer
has done well by the two Duci de Kerekjárto
discs. The violin is brought well forward
and this makes for direct and enjoyable
listening, and in fact a lot more enjoyable
than listening to my own copy. Then
there are some most unusual sides by
Emil Telmányi. There’s a 1935
side with Gerald Moore – not issued
on 78 but I think once available on
Danacord DACO150. It was a real surprise
to find his Hejre Kati from 1959
with Annette Telmányi . Of course
his best days were long behind him but
the only previously known recording
was in the orchestral version with his
own chamber orchestra conducted by Thomas
Jensen. So, something of a coup, direct
from the violinist’s estate. Szigeti,
of course, earns a prominent place.
The wartime transcription disc emphasises
an already brittle tone but the understanding
of the idiom naturally enough is powerful.
This then is a most
rewarding two-disc set. It’s been thoughtfully
compiled, very well transferred, and
annotated and documented with intelligence.
First class all round.