Leon Bosch continues his globe-trotting trek with this Hungarian disc, one that satisfies on a number of levels. The repertoire is cleverly chosen, the transcribed material works extremely effectively, and, as before, Bosch’s sonority, his legato eloquence, and timbral subtlety, ensure that everything comes alive with great immediacy. Add to that, too, a fine rapport with the excellent Sung-Suk Kang, and you have another winning recital.
Kodály wrote his Adagio for viola and piano in 1906 though it has since been happily appropriated by violinists and cellists, and now bassists. The rippling piano writing supports the meditative bass line, full of lyrical variation and considerable warmth. The composer encouraged bassists to use seven of his nine Epigrams
(properly Epigramme), a solution taken up by Bosch. These student character studies are all very brief and concentrated, full of deft harmonies and – in the case of the fifth - hinting at folkloric, here cimbalom, influence.
Lajos Montag was a long-time teacher of the bass in Budapest and a hugely influential figure. His Extręme
has plenty of virtuosic demands, taking the bass quite high, and also vesting the line with yearning intensity – all of which challenges, needless to say, Bosch surmounts with great control. Lajos’s younger brother, Vilmos Montag, is represented by Silhouette,
a perky opus again infused with folklore and brio. Bosch has arranged Liszt’s La Lugubre Gondola
, and he well captures its agitation and sense of sepulchral foreboding. It was the violinist André Gertler who transcribed Bartók’s Sonatina which Bosch has then transcribed for bass. Here the bagpipe motifs are pleasingly audible and this early piece has plenty of lively and exciting writing.
Jenö Takács is/was a pianist and composer who lived to a venerable age; is he still alive? His 100th
birthday was celebrated with two hundred concerts of his music in Eisenstadt, near to where he was born. His Alte Ungarische Hofballmusik
was written in 1985. This stately piece moves from Hungarian Dance influence to more mobile and harmonically modernised writing as the work develops. But both its plangency and its exciting contrasts remain securely tenured to the dictates of appealing to its audience, which it does with great accomplishment and no little style. Pal Járdányi’s Melody owes quite a bit to Debussy, whilst Ferenc Farkas’s Népdalszonatina
of 1958 evokes Hungarian children’s songs. Don’t overlook Elisabeth Eszlary’s Sonatina with its old fashioned character and excellent dance themes in the brief finale.
So a really splendid and winningly performed recital. Bosch now has a select but alpha level discography to his name.