Csárdás Forever Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882–1953) Heia in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland from Die
Csárdásfürstin [2:53] * Grand Palotás de la Reine from Der Teufelsritter [6:04] Höre ich Zigeunergeige from Gräfin Mariza [4:45] * Ferenc ERKEL (1810–1893) Palótas from Hunyadi László [4:11] Csárdás from Bánk bán [4:05] Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Hungarian Dance No. 5 [2:29] Léo DELIBES (1836–1891)
Hungarian czardasfrom Coppelia [3:42] Johann STRAUSS I (1804–1849) Souvenir of Pest [8:18] Johann STRAUSS II (1825–1899) Rosalinda’s Csárdás from Die Fledermaus [4:18] * Éljen a Magyar! (Long live the Hungarian!) [2:50]
Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra/János Kovács
rec. Hungaroton Studio, Budapest, 16-19 April, 2005 HUNGAROTON
The czardas is a dance in 2/4 or 4/4 time, originating from 19th century
Hungary. One of its characteristics is variation in tempo,
starting slowly and then step by step becoming more lively,
ending very ‘fresh’ (in Hungarian ‘friss’). The name comes
from ‘csárdá’ – a tavern or inn – and it can be heard in
most countries in the vicinity of Hungary. The origin, back
in the 18th century, is the ‘verbunkos’, a recruiting
dance from the Hungarian army. Bartók, for instance utilizes
the verbunkos. ‘The tango of the East’ it has been called
and many composers, not only from the czardas region, have
been fascinated by it. On this disc there are also a couple
of ‘palotás’ or palace dances which seems to stem from the
15th century and the royal court. It has changed
through the centuries and the modern palotás is closely related
to the czardas but is more stately and dignified. According
to a source it was Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the Hungarian
National Anthem, who wrote the first modern palotás for his
opera Hunyadi Lászlo (1844), the very piece that can
be heard on this disc.
The czardas is undoubtedly infectious with its exuberant rhythms.
This disc goes some way towards showing that there is enough
variety to make a quite satisfactory and listenable programme.
When companies can issue discs with only Viennese waltzes,
why should we not be able do digest a goulash of Hungarian
dance, especially since not everything here is strictly czardas.
Johann Strauss I’s Souvenir of Pest, for example,
the longest item, is a waltz and it was a good idea to invite
the young New York-born soprano Patricia Seymour to sing
three arias and also to adorn the cover. She had her training
in Bucharest, first as a pianist; later taking up singing.
Today she is a soloist at the ‘Ion Dacian’ National Operetta
Theatre in Bucharest. She has an agile voice with an easy
reach into the upper regions and she sings with gusto though
not much variation of voice colouring. Her upper register
can be quite squally but in the main she is attractive to
listen to, in small helpings anyway. The experienced János
Kovács has a firm grip on the fine orchestra and it probably
takes a native Hungarian to make the music ‘swing’. It is
also good to have some pieces that are not everyday fare.
The Grand Palotás from Kálmán’s Der Teufelsreiter made
a nice acquaintance and the most distinguished Hungarian
opera composer – besides Bartók that is – Ferenc Erkel, is
probably not that well-known outside Hungary. I knew Hunyadi
Laszlo; I even have a complete recording, conducted by
the same conductor as on this disc. The opera is filled with
attractive music and Erkel occupies a place in Hungarian
music history comparable to Glinka’s in Russia and Smetana
in Czech music. That his operas have never found a place
in the international operatic world has nothing to do with
inferior quality but rather to linguistic problems. These
two dances may well be an incentive to explore his oeuvre
a bit deeper. That Brahms liked Hungarian music is well known.
The finale from his Piano Quartet in G minor is a real tour
de force in Magyar rhythms and he called the Hungarian Dances ‘my
Gipsy children’. The booklet has bios of the conductor, the
soprano and the orchestra but not a word on the music, which
is a pity. On the other hand there are numerous photos of
Patricia Seymour. At 44 minutes the playing time is not much
to write home about, but if that is no big deal this should
be a nice acquisition for those with a taste for csárdás.
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