Review

Magyar Nemzet
1993

A renewed Hungaroton

It was high time that our record production showed signs of new life, we could say maliciously. Well, this freshly released CD is joyful for many reasons, beyond the fact that it foreshadows the Hungaroton renewal. It is joyful both because it gives voice to two brilliant young artists and because it introduces two Hungarian classics of our century's art of composition. Naturally, referring to László Lajtha, whose centenary last year gave an opportunity to recall his unjustly neglected work, the word introduce does seem an exaggeration. It would be more appropriate --unfortunately --to say that about Ernő Dohnányi, whose name has "successfully" fallen into oblivion during the last couple of decades, and whose compositions were put on the embargo list because the world famous master was labelled a war criminal.

The accomplishment of Péter Szabó and Dénes Várjon on the album is praiseworthy both because of their artistic excellence and because of their record's cultural policy value. In this production the artists did not aim to boast about themselves, rather, they paid their respects to the memory of two composers who should be properly known and appreciated in Hungary, especially with regard to lasting appreciation abroad.

Dohnányi's B major cello-piano sonata is from the last year of the previous century when the composer was twenty-two years old, and it is an example of the young Dohnányi's commitment to Brahms. It is the product of a genuine chamber music player who already at a very early age mastered the balance of sounds and proportions of classical form with absolute confidence.

László Lajtha has two compositions on the disc. His Cello-piano Sonata was composed in 1932 at the age of forty under the influence of French composers. It this was the only piece by him on the record the listener not yet acquainted with Lajtha would take him for a virtuoso artist of form, a juggler who hides his emotions behind his sparkling musical ideas. How different is the following, eight years later Concerto! As if he anticipated all the sufferings of the war: he talks to us in a personal voice, directly, with a staggering laconism - hence with a double effect.

I think and I believe that this recording will reach the foreign audience too, partly to gain acquaintance with the excellent compositions of our two magnificent artists and partly for us to prove the world that we have finally arrived at appreciating our values!

Marianne Pándi

Translation by Susan Kapás

Péter Szabó cellist, conductor, music editor
Péter Szabó's recordings are available on Amazon.com: