Hubay: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Dramatique); Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 90

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COMPOSERS: Hubay
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Hubay
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Dramatique); Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 90
PERFORMER: Hagai Shaham (violin); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67498
There are few more depressing listening experiences than a composing-by-numbers Romantic concerto. Thankfully, Hyperion has done more than any company to bring the true gems of the period to light, and this sixth instalment in the ‘Romantic Violin Concerto’ series is one of its very finest. Hubay’s First Concerto, in particular, combines the sweetness of Saint-Saëns and emotional poignancy of Bruch and Wieniawski, with a large dollop of Chausson-esque Wagnerisms thrown in for good measure.

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I feared the worst for the early Suite, expecting wrist-crippling pyrotechnics; yet it turns out to be a charming four-movement work, with an ear-catching, gavotte-style opening Moderato and an enchanting Idylle, whose easygoing triple-time lyricism rises from the same melodic spring as the minuet from Saint-Saëns’s A minor Cello Concerto. The Second Concerto is less distinctive, although expertly written, with a winning dance-style finale.

Hagai Shaham does wonders for these neglected scores, playing with beguiling purity throughout the range, and a heart-felt intensity

that makes the most of Hubay’s penchant for soaring E-string melody. Typically alert and sensitive backing from the BBC Scottish SO under

the direction of Martyn Brabbins

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and luxury sound round out an excellent release. Julian Haylock