May 1985

Salutation of generations

In the revival of the musical life in postwar Cluj, György Halmos was one of the most prominent performers beside István Nagy, Antonin Ciolan, Antal Rónai and the later István Ruha. Later he was invited to teach in the Porumbescu Academy of Music in Bucharest. He did not break off relations with students and the concert life but due to his commitments in and outside the country and his permanent engagement in the capital, he was not so vigorously active in the musical circuit in Cluj any more.
However, it would have been immensely beneficial for the young musicians being educated here to experience the authority of such a character!
Those who went to listen to the cello-piano sonata concert of April 25 in the entrance hall of the Romanian Opera –where György Halmos and the graduating Péter Szabó played the Sonata in D major by Bach, the C major Op.102 No.1 Sonata by Beethoven and the E minor Op.38 Sonata by Brahms – had the chance to assess the always great value of young talent meeting enormously experienced.
Without being didactic, the performance of Gyögy Halmos bore an obviously leading character in the spirit of music making. Péter Szabó was not embarrassed by this for a minute, he could identify himself completely with this kind of interpretation of the musical material. He was born to stage and he is full of musicality, he is a conscious former, a spirited and confident performer. He easily grew into a worthy partner of György Halmos. In the diverse, colourful and exquisitely tasteful performance all the parts formed a perfect unit: the perfect dialogue of the Bach sonata’s first movement, which reappeared similarly in the interpretation of the Brahms sonata’s first movement, the clear polyphony of the Beethoven sonata’s finale and the unity in the main theme of the first movement’s Allegro of the same sonata. There is a small detail, noticeable though not striking, which we found worthy of mention - in connection with Péter Szabó’s performance - namely his slightly arbitrary disposition style present most typically in the slow movement of the Bach sonata. Here he emphasizes the start of the longer value sounds and suddenly liberates them, creating a fluctuation in the melody which is supported by pillars instead of sustaining a grand arch –this way the grand blooming of the form gets somewhat disintegrated. It would exert a beneficial influence on his revolutionary disposition if he could make sharper distinctions in his use of vibrato and chose a more tender, warm tone for the lyrical parts, a more intense one to produce tension. These are minor details but they also need attention. This is our way of saying proper thanks to György Halmos for generously passing on the torch of civilized music making to young professionals and to the Romanian Academy of Music for giving the venue for such a pleasant and touching concert.

Béla Barabás

Translation by Susan Kapás

Péter Szabó cellist, conductor, music editor
Péter Szabó's recordings are available on