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Friday, December 7, 2018

Leó Weiner - Violin Sonatas (Hagai Shaham; Arnon Erez)


Composer: Leó Weiner
  • (01) Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 9
  • (05) Violin Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 11
  • (09) Peregi verbunk, Op. 40 'Pereg recruiting dance'
  • (10) Lakodalmas, Op. 21b 'Wedding dance'
  • (11) Three Hungarian folk dances (arr. Tibor Ney)
  • (14) Twenty easy little pieces (arr. Tibor Fülep)

Hagai Shaham, violin
Arnon Erez, piano

Date: 2009
Label: Hyperion



An absorbing recording of the music of an inspirational teacher

Leó Weiner (1885-1960) was once mentioned in the same breath as Bartók, Kodály and Dohnányi, his slightly older contemporaries, and he was the recipient of the prestigious Coolidge Prize in 1922. But history is a great leveller and now he is largely remembered as an extraordinarily inspirational teacher, a fixture for nearly half a century at the Liszt Academy in Budapest where he taught, among others, Géza Anda, Antal Dorati, János Starker and Georg Solti.

If you’re expecting music with a folk quality as sharply etched as that of Bartók and Kodály you’ll be disappointed but taken on his own terms Weiner is a composer of much personality and spirit. There’s a self-confidence to both his sonatas that is very appealing and he certainly demands much of both players.

If you were listening with an innocent ear, it would probably be a while before you picked up on the Hungarian spirit of the First Sonata (1911). It is very much in a Romantic tradition, though the gently modal Hungarian tinges of the second movement (a hard-pressed scherzo) and the finale (a tour de force for both players, with a gloriously upbeat ending) give the composer’s nationality away. A war separated this and the Second Sonata but the spirit of Romanticism still hovers. There are, though, also more blatant folk tinges, including some effective imitation of the cimbalom in the solo piano opening of the finale and a subsequent zigeuner-like freedom to the violin writing. It’s a heady mix, eloquently realised by Shaham and Erez, with Shaham’s generous sound particularly suited to these big works. In the Hungarian folk dances a slightly less lush sound might have lent them more bite, while even Shaham can’t make the 20 Easy Pieces sound more than basic teaching material. But as a snapshot of Weiner’s diverse talents, it’s an absorbing listen.

-- Harriet Smith, Gramophone

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Leó Weiner (16 April 1885 – 13 September 1960), was one of the leading Hungarian music educators. He studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest with János (Hans) Koessler, winning numerous prizes there. He was appointed music theory teacher at the Budapest Academy of Music in 1908, professor of composition in 1912 and professor of chamber music in 1920. Among his many students were Fritz Reiner, Georg Solti, Peter Erős, Béla Síki, János Starker and György Sebők. As a composer, Weiner's compositions were strongly influenced by the early Romantics from Beethoven through Mendelssohn.


Hagai Shaham (born July 8, 1966) is an Israeli violin virtuoso. He began studying the violin at the age of six and was the last student of the late Professor Ilona Feher. He has performed with many of the world's major orchestras as a soloist , and also appears as a recitalist and in chamber music performances. Shaham regularly tours throughout Europe, and North and South America. He has recorded music of Achron, Bloch, Brahms, Hubay, Grieg, Mozart and more for labels such as Biddulph, Hyperion, Avie, Naxos, Talent. He is also a violin teacher, and a professor at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music.


Arnon Erez is an acclaimed Israeli pianist and chamber musician, and a piano professor at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. Erez studied the piano with Hana Shalgi, Michael Boguslavski and Arie Vardi at the Rubin Academy of Music. He then pursued further chamber music studies in the US with the Guarneri Quartet. His international career began in 1990, after winning—together with his duo partner Hagai Shaham—the ARD International Music Competition in Munich. Erez has recorded for several European radio and television stations, as well as labels including Hyperion and Nimbus.


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