Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dances (complete) (1869-1880)
Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra/János Sándor

Brahms originally published the twenty-one Hungarian Dances as pieces for piano duet (four hands). The first set was assembled in 1869, bringing together a number of pieces, which Brahms had composed sporadically during the 1850s and 1860s for his amusement, and that of his friends. A second set of dances was published in 1880. The orchestrations here recorded are by a variety of hands. Brahms himself orchestrated the first, third and tenth dances while Dvorák orchestrated numbers 17 Ė 21. None of this information is available to purchasers of this CD for there is no documentation whatsoever other than a track listing. Thatís a pity, I think, because this disc is presumably aimed at the impulse purchaser who may well know nothing about the music. Some brief notes surely would not have hurt?

Iím also unable to tell you when or where the performances were recorded although the recording is DDD and the recording, which sounds unmistakably to be a studio production, is licensed from the Hungaroton label. The sound is a little close and dry; it would have benefited from a bit more space around the players. That said, the sound is perfectly acceptable though the closeness leads to just a touch of harshness in tutti passages.

The playing of the Hungarian Philharmonic is affectionate and committed though the orchestra is not in the highest class. I would have welcomed a bit more dynamic contrast (though the absence of truly soft playing may be due in part to the recorded balance already mentioned.)

This is music which needs to lilt and smile and, in the last analysis, these performances seem to me rather to be lacking in charm and grace. As a whole the collection is serviceable but there are several other versions in the catalogue, covering all price brackets, and even at budget price I canít really say, hand on heart, that this CD is truly competitive.

John Quinn

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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