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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos.1-14

Hungarian Rhapsody No.1 in E major [10:22]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 in C sharp [7:05]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.3 in B flat minor [4:03]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.4 in E flat minor [4:20]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.5 in E minor Héroïde-élegiaque [4:21]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 in D flat [5:51]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.7 in D minor [4:33]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.8 in F sharp minor Capriccio [5:06]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.9 in E flat major Carnaval de Pesth [9:22]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.10 in E major Preludio [4:46]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.11 in A minor [4:44]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 in C sharp minor [7:55]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.13 in A minor [7:22]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F minor [7:01]
Marche de Rákóczy in A minor [2:47]
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C sharp [7:49]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F minor [8:33]
Concerto Pathétique in E minor for two pianos, four hands [8:33] +
Mark Hambourg (piano)
Michal Hambourg (piano) +
rec. London 1926-34
APR 7040 [66:13 + 58:11]

 


This is the first reissue of Mark Hambourg’s cycle of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies. The two CDs also contain variant performances – the 1926 recording of No.2 as well as the 1932 replacement, the 1929 No.14 and the 1933 traversal that superseded it. There’s also the 1927 Marche de Rákóczy and the scintillating performance, with his daughter Michal, of the Concerto Pathétique.

Bryan Crimp speculates that the intention to record a complete cycle formed with the opening of the Abbey Road studios in 1931. Up to that point Nos. 2, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14 had already been recorded – as we’ve seen Nos. 2 and 14 were re-recorded to bring them into sonic contention with the newer recordings, though the others were considered acceptable.

Although admired by his contemporaries Hambourg tended to be written down as an executant. Though it’s undeniably the case that he was not an infallible finger technician his bravura sense of projection and drama usually compensated for any smudges or flurries. Certainly the rippling delicacies of the E major, coursing with Olympian rubato, make for a most engaging start. Cimbalom effects are always to the fore in his performances – and note too that the later recording of No.2 is somewhat tighter than the earlier 1926 early electric. It’s hardly note perfect but it is genuinely exciting. 

Try the volcanic paraphrases of Hambourg’s way with No.5 in E minor where the concluding flourishes are a whirl of driving passion. Or the treble flecked figuration of No.6 with those dancing figures so saturated in heartfelt personality and his characteristically personalised sonority. Yes, No.9 is splashy but it’s also vigorous and alive – though one should add that where Hambourg tends to be marked down technically he’s not sufficiently marked up tonally. 

Bryan Crimp’s excellent transfer work does well by these sides and there are gratifyingly full discographic details – and I mean FULL. 

By the way for those interested you might like to consider Arbiter’s The Hambourg Legacy (see review).

Jonathan Woolf 


 

 


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