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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: 23 minutes 52 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 4 in A minor 'All'antica', Op 101
composer
1906/7

Preludio: Largo  [6'31]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Concerto No 4 in A minor Op 101 (‘All’antica’) differs from most of Hubay’s romantic music by being built on baroque forms. It was composed during the winter of 1906/7 and dedicated to Stefi Geyer, another one of his famous disciples.

The first movement starts with a slow Preludio, with baroque-like, traditional melody and harmony in ‘old style’, according to its name; only the romantic orchestration identifies the era of its composition. The theme of the first six bars in the orchestra serves as the basic material for this movement. Soon after the soloist’s entrance it moves from its tonic A minor to more remote tonalities, but never loses its harmonic foundation and returns safely to the home key. This feeling of harmonic stability is familiar from the old style the music emulates, complete with ‘Tierce de Picardie’ tonic major ending.

The second movement is a fast dance-like Corrente in triple time. A characteristic theme, starting with a pizzicato chord followed by jumpy quavers, provides the main subject of this movement. The ‘Musette’ middle section—named after a French bagpipe-accompanied dance here imitated by the continuous drone played by the solo violin’s open G-string—has the soloist’s melody (on the D string, simultaneously with the drone) accompanied by flutes and oboes. The repeated Corrente ends the movement. Some contemporary music critics believed this to be the best movement in Hubay’s music.

The third movement (Larghetto) introduces a religious prayer-like mood, with long-drawn, hushed melodic lines in romantic spirit. It offers a contrast to the previous dances. The main melody of the solo violin is followed by a poco animato section in minor key, with agitated double stops from the soloist. A middle section follows where the soloist polyphonically combines two melodies, after which the first theme returns. The movement ends after a calm coda recalling the previous polyphonic material.

In the Finale, after a syncopated orchestral opening, the soloist introduces a quick and angular theme, followed by passages of scales and arpeggios. This brilliant passagework culminates with a cadenza, this time not a very long one but nevertheless technically demanding. The concerto ends in an optimistic C major.

from notes by Amnon Shaham © 2003

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