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Leó WEINER (1885-1960)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 9 (1911) [24:18]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 11 (1918) [27:17
Peregi verbunk 'Pereg recruiting dance', Op. 40 [6:09]
Lakodalmas 'Wedding dance', Op. 21b (1938) [3:36]
Három magyar népi tánc 'Three Hungarian folk dances' [5:13]
Húsz könnyü kis darab 'Twenty easy little pieces' transcribed by Tibor Fulep [12:04]
Hagai Shaham (violin), Arnon Erez (piano)
rec. June 2008, Jerusalem Music Center, Israel
HYPERION CDA67735 [77:29]
Experience Classicsonline

The exploration of Weiner’s music continues strongly here. Weiner’s Op.9 Sonata was written in 1911 and inhabits a Brahmsian orbit - it reminds me of the Op.78 Violin Sonata in particular - but does manage to offer a degree of independence nevertheless. The opening movement has quite a strongly lyric curve and the scherzo an engaging if ultimately rather repetitious and - to be blunt - thematically thin energy. If only the slow movement had a real tune it would rank higher - this is not supercilious, as it is beautifully distributed between the instruments and is warmly textured; it’s just none too distinctive. The freewheeling finale is better in that respect.

The 1918 Sonata cleaves closer to Franck. Again it’s a splendidly thought out work but one in which the ideas never quite - it’s very frustrating, this - manage to coalesce convincingly. One feels Weiner on the edge of really saying something in these two works, but never quite managing to do so. The pertly firefly second movement is another of his quixotic and deft utterances, the slow movement a touch gestural. The cimbalom evocations of the finale are striking as are the obviously martial implications of the march rhythms. Clearly the subtext is more text than sub for 1918 but the point is made at too great a length; eleven minutes for this movement unbalances the work.

Peregi verbunk is a recruiting dance and cimbalom rich, Brahmsian once more in orientation; there’s a rather over formal cadential solo section. Lakodalmas, the Wedding dance is pleasingly done, along with impish pizzicato, strong trills and the famous slow-fast schema of such things. So finally we have the twenty easy pieces, or Húsz könnyü kis darab. The transcription is wholly effective and these charming, brief pieces prove engaging, especially the added depth of the seventeenth, an Andante of touching warmth, which Shaham plays with hooded intensity.

This is a finely played recital from a duo I happen to admire. I was only disturbed by some slightly tense vibrato in the First Sonata. Otherwise the Shaham-Erez duo plays these works with enviable authority, and never inflates them. Don’t expect innovation or exotica from Weiner’s violin works. There are well crafted, largely non-academic pleasures here, though nothing earth shattering, it’s true.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Rob Barnett


































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