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Hyperion Records

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The Solitary Cedar (1907) by Tivador Csontvary Kosztka (1853-1919)
Csontvary Museum, Pecs, Hungary / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67735
Recording details: June 2008
Jerusalem Music Centre, Israel
Produced by Eric Wen
Engineered by Zvi Hirshler
Release date: July 2009
Total duration: 24 minutes 18 seconds

'Shaham's pungent, occasionally acidic string tone is perfect for Weiner's mixture of extravagance and cool … great elegance and flamboyant ease' (The Guardian)

'Highly enjoyable … full of charm and wit … the playing is exemplary … Shaham and Erez make the best possible case for these pieces, duly wearing hearts on sleeve where appropriate' (International Record Review)

'Hagai Shaham plays with a large, richly Romantic tone and a feeling for the grand gestures in which the music delivers its message and the ethnic matrix from which it emerged. But he also has the virtuosic flair to put across the most flamboyant numbers' (Fanfare, USA)

'The excellent Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham and his accompanist of many years Arnon Erez (together they won the 1990 ARD Competition) have recorded Leo Weiner’s two magnificent early violin sonatas … with such devotion and such a feeling for the sensual glow of this music that, from the very first bar, one is totally transfixed by the art of their musical seduction … Hagai Shaham links a perfect technique with the mesmerizing beauty of his fiery sound; he embodies the ideal Hungarian gipsy-violinist, the highly cultivated Prince Charming who will give it 'his all' to cast a spell on his listeners … nowadays, violinists with such charisma have become very rare and should therefore be especially cherished … the old-fashioned magic of Shaham’s sound' (Stereoplay, Germany)

Violin Sonata No 1 in D major, Op 9

Moderato  [5'21]
Andante  [6'29]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Weiner composed his Violin Sonata No 1 in D major Op 9 in 1911. The predominantly lyrical first movement, Moderato, is reminiscent of the Brahms sonatas not so much in style as in mood and structural concision; and the near-independence of the two instruments, moving almost throughout the movement in counterpoint, is notable. The long-spanned principal theme, which might be said to have a slight Hungarian accent rather than use a Hungarian vocabulary, is a fine example of Weiner’s sustained melodic writing. The sonata is remarkable for containing two movements in fast waltz-tempo, and the first of these serves as the scherzo: its capricious and voluble outer sections surround a central trio dominated by repeated dactylic rhythms, very like—and perhaps alluding to—those that infuse the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No 7.

The ecstatic melodic writing of the Andante slow movement demonstrates Weiner’s deep roots in Germanic romanticism, especially Brahms, though the musical texture is lighter than that of his great predecessor. The restatement of the main tune in the last third of the movement brings a rippling, decorative accompaniment to gild this ecstatic lily. By contrast the finale begins as a good-humoured, capering Presto requiring fine violin technique for its execution, pitted against fanfaring chords in the piano. (Weiner directs that it should be ‘sharply rhythmicized’.) Soon, however, there occurs a cyclic return of the first movement’s opening theme, interspersed with the quick-moving figurations of the finale. These elements alternate in an energetic and sometimes grotesque parade of invention, which constitutes a development. When it seems the music can no longer surprise us, the coda strikes in even faster, at Rasches Walzertempo, with a fusillade of pizzicato strumming from the violinist, and drives to a distinctly raffish conclusion.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2009

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