It is always enjoyable to discover new repertoire for my instrument,
and this disc is mostly new to me, containing flute music written
in Hungary in the second half of the twentieth century.
János Decsényi’s Sonatina pastorale
is the first of the works, falling into three short movements
which, as the title suggests, have a distinctly pastoral feel.
This piece is of moderate difficulty and the simple lines flow
well between the flute and piano. In traditional fast-slow-fast
format, the sprightly and cheerful folk-influenced final movement
is particularly enjoyable.
Mátyás Seiber is one of the better known composers
on this disc, and I first encountered his music as a recorder
player many years ago. His harmonic language is more modernist
than Decsényi’s, and this Pastorale and Burlesque
seems to contain influences of both his former teacher Kodály
and a range of styles heard during his international travels
- he lived in both Germany and London. Originally composed for
flute and strings, the recording here is of a version made by
the composer for flute and piano. The music has a strong character,
particularly the Burlesque, which is light-hearted and
György Kósa’s Notturno is a following
melodic work containing sections for alto flute and piccolo,
providing darker and brighter sounds for contrast. This is a
piece with a sorrowful feel, its contemplative lines twisting
and floating over a low and heavy piano part. This relatively
long work is ominous yet with some beautifully expressive lines,
keeping the direction and momentum going through to the final
Csaba Szabó’s Sonata con ritmo di ballo
is the most substantial work on the disc, lasting almost twenty
minutes in total. From the opening bars it bursts full of rhythmic
energy, and the harmonic language is very different from the
others on this disc, combining neo-classical structural and
rhythmic ideas with twelve-tone influenced melodic constructs.
The opening movement features strong dotted-rhythm motifs and
relentless energy. By contrast, the central movement is more
flowing, although the sense of aggression remains, with dissonant
harmonies in the piano and dramatic leaps in the flute line.
The movement gives way to a toccata-like section, with enticing
dissonances and angular lines. The final movement features some
exhilarating rhythmic energy, with the flute soaring above piano
ostinati. The two instruments share some of the melodic material
through imitation and linking of lines, and the textural variety
maintains the work’s sense of development and determination.
Endre Szervánsky’s Sonatina is a pedagogical
piece, composed for the students of Zoltán Jeney. This
is a melodic work which has a cheerful opening movement, sonorous
central movement and a fast paced folk-influenced finale. Although
technically simple, this is a charming piece which has much
to offer. From a more modern time, when the rigorous demands
of the Communist regime were somewhat more relaxed, Kamillo
Lendvay’s Quattro duetti of 1965 gives, as the
sleeve-notes state, a “rough idea of un-ideological and
atonal but “nevertheless” comprehensible modern
music as it was conceived by the powers that be of the time”.
These four modernist pieces are well conceived and contrast
well with each other. The pieces are expressive, dramatic and
demonstrative of the varied capabilities of the flute and piano.
The Meditazione by Ferenc Farkas is a short and
expressive melodic work, which is charming and well constructed,
with a simplicity that is well-placed after the modernism of
Lendvay. The final work on the disc, Pál Járdányi’s
Sonatina is a short educational piece, which is perhaps
best known by a British audience through its inclusion on the
Associated Board’s exam syllabus. This is enjoyable writing
and contains folk influences, a nostalgic central movement and
a rhythmically biting finale.
Zoltán Gyöngyössy and Zsuzsa Kollár
form an excellent duo and play well together to give a good
representation of the music of their native country. Their playing
is passionate, expressive and dramatic as the music demands.
This disc provides a fascinating insight into Hungarian flute