Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor Concerto dramatique Op.21 (1884-1885) [30:30]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major Op.90 (1900 published 1904) [26:45]
Scènes de la Csarda: No. 3 Op.18 The Waters of the river Maros flow gentle (1885) [7:13]; No. 4 Op.32 Hey Kati [Hejre Kati] (1889) [6:19]
Chloë Hanslip (violin)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Mogrelia
rec. June 2008, The Concert Hall, The Lighthouse, Poole
NAXOS 8.572078 [70:46]

It’s high time that Hubay’s Violin Concertos were given an airing on disc. Chloë Hanslip is here following in the footsteps of Hagai Shaham, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins [Hyperion CDA67498] whose recording of both these works was released a few years ago now. This new entrant then is a budget label competitor. A consistent point of difference to collectors is the decidedly different take that both violinists have of the respective slow movements. Shahan is very much the more fleet interpreter, allowing the music to speak lyrically, but taking it at a broadly forward moving tempo. Hanslip however vests far greater lateral intensity in the central movements, spinning a gorgeous though extended line. Preferences might perhaps be guided by this principal difference in interpretative stance.

The First Concerto of 1884 opens in fiery fashion. Certainly Carl Flesch was right to cite Vieuxtemps as an influence, but it’s nevertheless a broadly cosmopolitan opus, with long, rich Romantic lines. The gauzy textures of the slow movement underpinned by harp, have a chaste sweetness that invites light bowing and plangent phraseology. Both Hanslip and Shaham offer rich things here, in their rather different ways. It’s the kind of thing that might have been ‘extracted’ to provide rich nourishment as an encore or recital. The finale has a broadly Hungarian gait, with a sweet lied encased in its B section.

The companion concerto - there are four altogether so I assume that these forces will give us the other brace before too long - was written around 1900. It’s fluently written and more obviously genial than the earlier work. Again it’s the slow movement that compels the most admiration. Hubay had a rich gift for this kind of thing, and he crafts here a movement of refined elegance. Hanslip deepens and widens her vibrato correspondingly, and there’s a rapt quality to her plays that compels admiration. The finale is a rip-snorting affair, wittily done, with a pawky conversation for the violin’s upper and lower voices. It’s a fine demonstration finale with some demanding virtuosic passages toward the end. There’s often a bridge passage between the first two movements of this concerto: Shaham plays it, but not Hanslip.

I should add that I have not yet heard a competing version of the concertos from Hungarian fiddle player Vilmos Szabadi - the complete set of Four Concertos on two discs: Hungaroton HGR 31976.

To fill out the disc we have two of the Scènes de la Csarda. An excellent selection of these was presented by Charles Castelman on Music and Arts - a most interesting disc. But Hanslip’s more modest couple can certainly stand comparison very nicely. She enjoys the span and rollicking adventure of the first. And it’s enjoyable to hear Hejre Kati in its orchestral accompanied garb for once.

With fine recorded sound and committed performances this is an admirable entrant, and its virtues are apparent in every movement.

Jonathan Woolf