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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67367
Recording details: December 2002
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2003
Total duration: 28 minutes 51 seconds

'These last two of Hubay’s four violin concertos make a most attractive addition to Hyperion’s emergent series of Romantic violin concertos … The Israeli soloist Hagai Shaham has the advantage of having been taught by one of Hubay’s pupils, Ilona Feher. Not only does he relish the Hungarian inflections in a winningly idiomatic way, he plays with an ethereal purity in the many passages of stratospheric melody. As so often, Martyn Brabbins proves a most sympathetic partner, drawing committed playing from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, helped by beautifully balanced, cleanly focused recording' (Gramophone)

'This third volume in Hyperion's Romantic Violin Concerto series may make you wonder why Hubay's Third Concerto has escaped the attention of virtually every fiddle player from Heifetz to Hahn. If, like me, you're a sucker for lashings of blistering virtuosity, strong, well-contrasted melodic content, and a substantial orchestral contribution, I promise that you will not be disappointed' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Hungarian's Third Violin Concerto is a masterly exercise in the vein of Mendelssohn, complete with passages of astonishing virtuoso display, which the soloist Hagai Shaham accomplishes m suitably florid style. The 11 Hungarian Variations and the "Antique" Fourth Concerto make similarly exciting listening' (The Independent)

'an outstanding violinist' (The Guardian)

'Hagai Shaham offers a deftly turned, heartfelt performance … The orchestral contribution is a winning ace' (International Record Review)

'glowing, flamboyant renditions' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This essentially fun record could have gone for nothing without the superb playing of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the redoubtable Martyn Brabbins, Andrew Keener's top-notch production values and, most especially, the jaw-dropping virtuosity of Hagai Shaham. Whatever Hubay throws at him, Shaham negotiates it with apparently nonchalant ease and invariably spotless intonation' (The Strad)

'Shaham, who has no competition in these two works, plays them with great stylistic authority, providing all the dash the showy but never meretricious parts require' (Fanfare, USA)

'Shaham’s combination of grace, wit, and ardency, well supported by Brabbins, shows Hubay’s lightweight romanticism in its best light' (The Irish Times)

'Hagai Shaham plays like a foremost virtuoso, performing with total equanimity, managing the most difficult passages, which flow from his instrument with ease, and backed by an orchestra on top form' (Hi-Fi Plus)

'Hagai Shaham plays like a major virtuoso … and genuinely seems to be enjoying himself with this beautifully crafted music … Hubay was a composer of substance, and this disc makes a very strong case for him. Do try to hear it' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Le violoniste israélien Hagai Shaham … en propose une vision pleine de panache au style exemplaire' (Diapason, France)

Violin Concerto No 3 in G minor, Op 99
composer
1907

Scherzo: Presto  [4'20]
Adagio, moderato  [10'15]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Concerto No 3 in G minor Op 99, dedicated to Franz de Vecsey, is perhaps the most popular of Hubay’s concertos. Since the first performance in 1907 by his world famous disciple Vecsey (who was also the dedicatee of Sibelius’s concerto), many contemporary violinists performed it frequently. The composer conducted the first performance in the newly built Academy of Music. Vecsey also played the concerto with great success in London and Berlin.

This composition follows the structural plan of Liszt’s piano concertos. It has four movements, instead of the usual three, performed with almost no break between them. The ‘Introduction quasi Fantasia’ presents the main theme in the orchestra. This subject has two contrary motifs: the first is based on a descending broken chord ending on a long note, after which comes a dotted, ‘jumpy’ rhythm. The orchestra ends its exposition with a reminder of the first motif. The soloist repeats the first motif and continues with technically demanding passagework. The element of fantasy is enhanced by the sudden changes between the quiet melodic line (based on the main theme) and the rapid virtuoso passages.

The second movement Scherzo comes without a break in fast triple time, with staccato notes first in the strings, then on the flutes. The entrance of the solo violin brings a new theme in double time. The orchestra soon introduces a new theme in a major key, also in triple time, but the soloist continues his theme and persuades the orchestra to join him before they once more go their separate ways. Finally they are reunited, the orchestra in agreement with the soloist.

A short pause leads into the Adagio third movement, which begins with a long chord above which the clarinet plays a solo passage reminiscent of the theme of the first movement. There is an unexpected outburst from the orchestra before the entrance of the soloist with a calm, romantic tune characterized by its dotted rhythm; this is repeated in different keys. The expressively melodic middle section of the movement exploits the violin’s highest register, before a recapitulation of the earlier solo material.

The final movement—Allegro con fuoco—starts with a timpani roll before the strings introduce the syncopated, chromatic main theme in fugato. The soloist enters with descending trills and unaccompanied cadenza-like passages before reaching the main theme, which serves as the basic musical element of this movement. There follows a cadenza of fearsome difficulty that recalls thematic material from all three previous movements, before the violinist plays the main subject once more. Just before the end, against the main theme in the orchestra, the soloist plays a beautiful contrapuntal melody, before exchanging roles with the orchestra in a rapid coda.

from notes by Amnon Shaham © 2003

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