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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 czardas from 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]
Patricia Seymour (soprano)*
Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra/János Kovács
rec. Hungaroton Studio, Budapest, 16-19 April, 2005
HUNGAROTON HCD16883 [44:11]



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.
 
Göran Forsling
 



 


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