"An Evening of Hungarian Music"
Wednesday, June 18, 2008Grace Episcopal Church, Nyack, New York
Mikhail Kopelman, violin
Anna Gurfinkel, piano
Rhapsody No.1 (Folk Dances)
Dedicated to Joseph Szigeti
- Béla Bartók
North Hungarian Peasant Song and Dance, Op.5
- Miklos Rózsa
Duo for Violin and Cello
Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor, Op.25
I got to this concert on the 18th. Forty miles, and a whole evening, to hear one of MR's smallest works, which I've got on several very familiar recordings already. Was it worth it? Yes.
The music was enjoyable, of course. The environment (a small stone church) made things especially interesting. Violin tone, bouncing off the stone floor and walls, was very bright and reflective. The cello (in the Kodály) seemed to fill the space with an especially huge, but less focused tone. Violinist Mikhail Kopelman spoke beforehand. Though Russian by upbringing, he was actually born in a portion of Hungary that was absorbed by the Soviet Union after World War II. (Surprise to me. I knew that the old Hungary had lost much territory to Slovakia and Romania in the early twentieth century, but I had never noticed the later amputation from its northeastern quarter.) Kopelman used to listen to broadcasts of Hungarian folk music at school in Moscow. He's obviously kept in touch with his roots, and that is what led him to assemble this Hungarian-themed program. (The Brahms concludes with a "Rondo alla Zingarese.")
My thinking here wandered to two recent threads. On being a "fan" of one's favorite composer: I didn't really need to travel forty miles to hear this little work again. Was it a sense of duty that impelled me to this little journey? Of course there was. (Would that more of us who felt that sense.) But I felt pretty confident that I would be rewarded with unexpected pleasures as well as familiar delights, and that was indeed the case. I have a couple of recordings of the Kodály, but had never really paid attention to this work. Hearing it live brought a whole new level of animation to the experience. I can now go back to the recordings with sharpened hearing.
Not least, I can't help but marvel at the communications coup we've got here. I wouldn't have known about this concert were it not for the diligence of a Dutchman who grew up in New Zealand and whom I recently met for the first time in Belgrade! He posted the news on a Web site devised by an Australian friend (whom I have never met) and we are "discussing" it now on a "Yuku" board with the help of somebody called Murcha, who advises us from . . . who knows where? If this be globalization, I'm all for it.