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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: 15 minutes 35 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)

Variations sur un thème hongrois, Op 72
composer

Theme: Adagio  [1'03]
Cadenza  [2'30]
Theme: Grave  [1'32]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The set of eleven Variations on a Hungarian Theme in D minor Op 72 begins with the orchestra presenting part of the theme (four bars) as an introduction. The solo violin is the main protagonist in this work, and his entrance is already a sort of variation with the addition of two more bars, which breaks the metrical balance of the tune. The full theme is presented by the soloist after a slow cadenza-like interlude played on the G-string.

Each variation has a typical character: the first is made of two slurred bars alternating with fast staccato triplets, the second is a set of triplets in double stops, the third has pizzicato chords and fast, bowed low-pitched semi­quavers. The fourth variation is a duet between the flute and the violin’s harmonics. The mood relaxes in the fifth variation, which brings a slower contrapuntal melody. The sixth variation is in B flat minor with fast, rising figures, ending with a short cadenza. The seventh variation introduces fast arpeggios over a plucked accompaniment. In variation eight the tune is in the violas, while the solo plays a trilled figure and double stops. The ninth variation has the orchestral violins accompanied by chords from the soloist, a texture which is inverted in the next variation. The last variation recalls the beginning of the theme, before running triplets take us to the final cadenza—this brilliant piece of showmanship brings us back to the final recapitulation of the theme.

from notes by Amnon Shaham © 2003

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