American Record Guide
May/June 2009

The Near Past of the Hungarian Flute

Decsenyi, Seiber, Kosa, Szabo, Szervanszky, Lendvay, Farkas, Jardanyi
Zoltan Gyongyossy; Zsuzsa Kollar, p
Hungaroton 32578 – 75 minutes

As the title of this recital of modern Hungarian flute pieces so quaintly puts it, these eight flute and piano duos date from “the near past”. Well, fairly near, anyway. All but one were written in the 1950s and 60s; the exception is from 1990. Three – by Janos Decsenyi, Endre Szervanszky, and Pal Jardanyi – are bright neoclassical sonatinas with melodies and modal harmonies gently tinged by Hungarian folk song in the Kodaly-approved manner. Fairly modest demands on the flutist make these pieces suitable for student performers. Matyas Seiber's Pastorale and Burlesque, an arrangement of a work originally scored for flute and strings, uses similar material, with added jazz inflections, in a less traditional structure.

Gyorgy Kosa's morose Notturno. Csaba Szabo's spiky and rhythmically driving Sonata Con Ritmo Di Ballo, Kamillo Lendvay's volatile and special-effects-laced Four Duets, and Ferenc Farkas's brief Meditation are more adventurous, with chromatically winding and disjunct melodic lines, post-tonal harmonies, and fluid, rhapsodic forms. These are more demanding, for both musicians and listeners, though nothing is really pointillist or forbidding.

Aficionados of more up-to-date and virtuoso flute music may well prefer the more up-to-date items, but flute teachers should definitely investigate the nicely-crafted and very charming sonatinas, among the best I've heard. Anyone interested in this repertoire will be glad to have this well-played and well-recorded program, especially since most of the pieces are unlikely to be found on any other available recording – though the adorable Jardanyi sonatina was once recorded with breathy pan pipes on Pavane 7229. I found my copy of that treasured disc at ARG in the spring of 1991, just as I began reviewing for the magazine.


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