Hungarian Trio delights with light music
The Hungarian Trio entertained George music lovers with a delightful programme of salon music interspersed with gentle anecdotes by Gabor Jeney on Friday night. Gabor Jeney, violin, the flautist Nerina von Mayer, and Donat Pellei, double bass, played "music with light character designed to please" which was very popular in Vienna in the early 20th century.
The concert opened with an interesting Jeney transcription of JS Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, after which the first half of the programme was mainly concerned with Viennese waltzes, including the seductive and flirtatious Meine Lippen sie kussen so heiss by Franz Lehar. This was followed by Richard Strauss's (no relation to the waltz kings) Di Rigori and Valse from his popular opera Der Rosenkavalier.
Ferenc Erkel was a composer in Budapest writing mainly operas of historical character, one of which included the Hymnusz and Csárdás. The hymn was based on Hungary's national anthem and a csárdás is a dance in two parts: a slow introduction followed by an exciting, wild dance with a gypsy flavour. It was invented by aristocrats in the 1830s and was very popular in the various dance halls in Vienna. Then we were treated to another Jeney transcription - of the Blue Danube; here the flute part characterises the continuous flow of the great river.
The first half ended with four Romanian dances by Béla Bartók. These are varied in character, ranging from a heavy stamp rhythm in the first through one with short abrupt phrases, the next one in a melancholic mood, to the final dance, which was delightfully light and happy.
The second part of the concert opened with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, where Pellei got to play the tune as well. He is able to coax soft, soothing sounds from the instrument as well as great thumping bass notes. His sensitive and skilful playing explains just why he is in such demand as a double bass player.
Franz Lehar and Emmerich Kálmán were both composing at the same time in Vienna in what was known as the "silver age of operettas". Kálmán's music often combined the waltz with the csárdás and it was, in fact, he who composed Alom Alom, often attributed to Lehar.
My hit of the evening was the hauntingly beautiful All I Ask of You by Lloyd Webber. This duet was lovingly played by Von Mayer and Jeney, with
Pellei giving a gentle and unobtrusive accompaniment.
We experienced the nostalgic Under Paris Skies and Gade's Jealousie Tango - given a good firm tango rhythm by Pellei, one almost wanted to get up and dance. The final piece, Ronald Hardiman's Lord of the Dance, was a masterclass in flute playing by Nerina von Mayer that left us breathless.
The audience gave it a well-deserved round of applause. As an encore the trio played one of Johann Schrammel's waltzes showing off the popular music of Vienna of the time.
This was a very satisfying evening of light music, which is the hallmark of the Hungarian Trio, and we hope that they will return. - Sue Rijsdijk
‘Pellei’s sensitive and skilful playing explains just why he is in such demand as a double bass player.’
The beautiful performance by the Hungarian Trio was well received on Friday at the Oakhurst Insurance George Arts Theatre. From left are Susan Hattingh (George Music Society member), Nerina von Mayer (flautist), Donat Pellei (double bass), Sandra Tillbrook (Music Society) and Gabor Jeney (violinist).