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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67498
Recording details: December 2004
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2006
Total duration: 28 minutes 19 seconds

'Hagai Shaham is something very special indeed with a sound that reminds me of Heifetz at his most silkily seductive. Both of these blazingly romantic works should be in concert halls the world over' (Gramophone)

'Hagai Shaham does wonders for these neglected scores, playing with beguiling purity throughout the range, and a heart-felt intensity that makes the most of Hubay's penchant for soaring E-string melody. Typically alert and sensitive backing from the BBC Scottish SO under the direction of Martyn Brabbins and luxury sound round out an excellent release' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The performances are uniformly excellent: Hagai Shaham is a supple soloist and gives the music all the support he can' (The Guardian)

'With Shaham, Hubay's legacy is in very safe hands indeed. He delivers these works with a solid technique and commanding authenticity. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins provide rather more than just support, aided by a reasonably natural recorded balance which lets Hubay's colouristic touches have full effect' (International Record Review)

'You wonder why all three works are not in the repertoire of every violinist. But then not every violinist sounds like Shaham. He really is something very special indeed. It almost goes without saying that that BBC Scottish and Brabbins provide their customary exemplary, colourful support. Earmarked for one of my discs of the year' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hubay's works should come as a most welcome addition to the recorded repertoire and Shaham's performances as an enthusiastic introduction. Recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'The virtuosic demands of Hubay’s music are more than adequately met by the formidable technique of violinist Hagai Shaham. One has to admire and be grateful to such musicians as he, for learning the music on this disc probably carries with it little promise that concert engagements of Hubay’s music will follow' (MusicWeb International)

'On retrouve dans cet album toutes les qualités de jeu du soliste qui nous avaient séduits dans les précédents volumes, finesse de timbres, agilité, panache, sobriété de style … Shaham fait preuve une fois encore d'une virtuosité scintillante' (Diapason, France)

Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor 'Dramatique', Op 21

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor Op 21 (‘Concerto dramatique’), dedicated to Hubay’s former teacher Joseph Joachim, was composed in 1884–5 while Hubay was in Brussels, where he was head of violin at the Conservatory. This concerto, the first of Hubay’s four, is written in the late-Romantic style and influenced by contemporary composers and violin-virtuosos. Hubay performed this work in 1908 at a concert to celebrate his fiftieth birthday, when his students Joseph Szigeti, Franz de Vécsey and Stefi Geyer performed his other three violin concertos.

The first movement unfolds a classical Sonata–Allegro form, but with the free use of solo cadenzas, these outbursts of virtuoso passages weaving between the movement’s main themes. The opening theme is introduced by the full orchestra, forte, in military style, preparing the background for the soloist’s entrance. The solo violin embarks on a short and unexpected cadenza in a free tempo, which leads to a mellow melody interrupted by further virtuoso passages. Another cadenza leads to the main theme presented by the violin. The woodwinds announce the second theme in the tonic major against a background of high-pitched trills from the soloist. This theme is elaborated in a fantasy-like development section marked by a dialogue between the soloist and orchestra. The thematic material is recapitulated, incorporating further short cadenzas from the soloist, before the movement concludes with an animated coda.

The contrasting second movement, Andante ma non tanto, is peaceful in character. It follows without interruption and begins with a dialogue between the harp and flute against a soft orchestral background. The soloist, who plays throughout the movement, presents a sweet song-like melody. The pastoral mood is interrupted only by a brief interlude of excitement, after which the main calm tune returns.

The orchestral opening of the third movement, Allegro con brio, presents a short, highly rhythmical motif which repeats itself obstinately until the soloist’s entrance. It is obstructed by short cadenzas, leading to a second theme. A slower, quieter tune is introduced by the orchestra in the major key, repeated by the soloist and then succeeded by an accompaniment of two harps. After the recapitulation of the main theme the solo violin plays the first rhythmical motif over the second movement’s theme played by the orchestra, before the work ends with a fiery coda.

from notes by Amnon Shaham © 2006

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