Magazine article Gramophone

Picture of Hungary through the Prism of Two Strings

Magazine article Gramophone

Picture of Hungary through the Prism of Two Strings

Article excerpt

'Works for Violin and Cello' Bartok 44 Duos--selection Kodaly Duo, Op 7 Ligeti Hommage a Hilding Rosenberg Rozsa Tema con variazioni, Op 29a Seiber Chamber Sonata Szekely Polyphon et homophon, Op 2 Friedemann Eichhorn vn Alexander Hulshoff VC Hanssler Classic [F] CD93 301 (64' x DDD)

Enterprising, engaging and full of intriguing, lesser-known names, this disc of violin-and-cello duos by Hungarian composers conceptually grows out of the first piece on the disc, Kodaly's famous 1914 Duo, Op 7, which emerges as a 20th-century catalogue of composing techniques for two predominantly linear instruments. Leapfrog fugues, juxtapositions of pizzicato and traditional bowing, recitative-like soliloquies for individual instruments, Janacek-style exclamations and use of folksong all unfold with more playful freedom and traditional lyricism than Kodaly's famous contemporary, Bartok.

Matyas Seiber's Sonata follows Kodaly so closely that he seems to be simply writing more movements to his teacher's pre-existing composition, with bits of jazz influence and arresting descriptive effects. Ligeti's 1982 birthday present to the composer Hilding Rosenberg goes furthest afield, with intense musical information stored in tight-knit modernistic harmonies. Rozsa's Tema cm variazimi, written for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, has particular folk flavouring but never falls into inauthentic postcard music. The weak link is Zoltan Szekely's cerebral Polyphon, especially as sequenced in close proximity to the Bartok Duos, which are wisely saved for last. …

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