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Eugene Zádor: Elegie and Dance – Oboe Concerto – Divertimento for Strings – Studies for Orchestra
László Hadady (Oboe), Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV, Mariusz Smolij (Conductor)
Recording: Studio 6, Hungarian Radio, Budapest, Hungary (September 9-11, 2011) – 68’21
Naxos #8.572549 – Booklet in English

Tumultuous times in Europe leading up to and through World War II gave cause for many musicians to emigrate to The United States, Eugene Zádor being one of them. This was a time when Hollywood’s motion picture industry of the 1930s and 1940s brought musical credit to people like Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman and Miklós Rozsa. But Eugene Zádor’s name rarely popped to the surface with such recognition since he was better known for working behind the scenes, taking musical ideas from his contemporaries and transforming them into full orchestral scores. After first studying with Richard Heuberger in Vienna at the age of 16, Zádor went on to supply a fruitful array of piano pieces, operas, chamber music, orchestral works and concertos, the latter two genres being represented on this recording.

These works have a 20th century flair of richness and formality, yet they teeter with melodic and atonal edging. The music is eclectic: solo flute’s introductory bars of the “Elegie” brings to mind Frederick Delius along with occasional tinctures of Debussy, Puccini and Zemlinsky as the composition progresses, but this is contrasted with more enlightening qualities in the conclusive “Dance.” The Divertimento for Strings, probably the most-performed of all pieces within Zádor’s fecund catalogue, has foundations of the Hungarian man’s past: Bartókian impressions run strongly through each of the three movements.

Zádor’s Studies for Orchestra is comprised of eight separate musical dialogues. The sections are so varied that it almost translates into a modernistic Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. Portions are frequently acrid, but at the same time, they demonstrate Eugene Zádor’s fascinating exercise into what the human mind can create using a potpourri of instruments and unexpected techniques. The coloring is a patchwork of experimentation. One example: whimsical jazz winds its way into the sixth movement (“Song: Allegretto”) that moves into a weighted dirge-like “Crescendo-Decrescendo: Moderato.” Saved for last, this Studies for Orchestra is highly complex, sophisticated and not for the faint at heart...clever and uneasy.

The Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV, under the direction of Mariusz Smolij, handles Eugene Zádor’s music with respect and admiration.

Christie Grimstad




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