Leo Weiner Divertimentos more than diverting

Hungarian composer and teacher Leo Weiner was a contemporary of Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. Like his colleagues, he used elements of Hungarian folk music in his work. Where he differed was in his style. Weiner’s music is more conservative, and solidly in the Post-Romantic tradition.

This volume includes an assortment of orchestral works by Weiner. The “Pastroal, phantaisie et fugue” is the most substantial piece on the album. Weiner composed it before he started exploring folk music.

It has an Impressionistic quality to it. Weiner’s use of modes keeps the work’s tonal center from being too strongly defined, giving the work a somewhat dreamy quality — even in the fugue.

In the Divertimento No. 1 “After Old Hungarian Dances,” Weiner uses folk music, but on his terms — sort of like Brahms. The melodies are Hungarian, but the harmonies are Weiner’s own. It’s a winning combination.

Zoltan Kodaly wrote that Weiner “belongs in the family of classics such as Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens, but with some definite Hungarian flavors.” I can hear it.

The Budapest Orchestra MAV directed by Valeria Csanyi turn in some solid performances. They know what their countryman was all about. The Hungarian elements are there. But Kodaly suggests, Csanyi lets them flavor the performances rather than take them over.

Leo Weiner: Complete Works for Orchestra 3
Divertimentos Nos. 1 and 2; Romance; Pastorale; Fantasy and Fugue; Hungarian Nursery Rhymes and Folk Songs
Ditta Rohmann, cello; Melinda Felletar, harp; Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV; Valeria Csanyi

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