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JENÖ HUBAY (1858-1937)

Scènes de la Csárda No. 3, op. 18, “Maros vize” (The waters of Maros)

September 24, 2017: Danbi Um, violin; Michael Brown, piano

Hungarian violinist and composer Jenő Hubay studied with his father and then with the great Joachim before traveling to Paris, where he became a close friend of Vieuxtemps. Hubay taught at the Brussels Conservatory, Budapest Conservatory, and Budapest Academy of Music, and continued to almost annually. He and many of his pupils, including Eugene Ormandy, Zoltan Székely, and Joseph Szigeti helped to shape European violin playing.

Between 1879 and 1920 Hubay composed fourteen Scènes de la Csárda, following the model of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. As was typical of the time Hubay grouped them all together as Gypsy music whether their tunes were true Magyar folk music or melodies by Hungarian composers that had become Gypsy fare. Subtitled “Maros vize” (The waters of Maros), No. 3 begins like a fantasia with the violin sounding dramatically improvisatory, accompanied by imitations of cimbalom tremolos in the piano. An expressive melody, another dramatic pronouncement, and a virtuoso cadenza bring on a lively version of Miska Borzó’s “Slowly Flows the Bodrog” (1859), which Brahms also used in a varied version in his Hungarian Dance No. 1. Dazzling virtuosity pervades Hubay’s treatment of the tune, followed by yet another exuberant theme that brings the scene to a spirited conclusion.

© Jane Vial Jaffe

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