DE3558cover-1024x1024In the DELOS just-released BRAHMS HUNGARIAN DANCES (DE 3558) German violinist Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker and Italian pianist Fabio Bidini compellingly make a case with their playing for the erasing of any and all national boundaries.

The duo lovingly makes this minor miracle happen by playing this category-defying music with equal quantities of Hungarian szenvedély and szomorú spiced with a nice dose of Italian passione, further tempered by impeccable musicianship and flawless technique.

The resulting musical feast should be enjoyed by anyone who loves Brahms and or violin and or Roma music.

I have a challenge ahead of me, though a negligible one: Do I file this in my CD library as Classical or as World Music? Yes, I know, Brahms laid claims to these 21 miniature gems by publishing them as “set by J. Brahms.”

Mind you, he neither used the German words for “arranged by” nor “adapted by”, and were I to program them in a concert of my imagination with me playing the violin I cannot begin to play for real, I would list them in the program as Hungarian Dances arranged by Joseph Joachim.

Neither here nor there, you would say, but, for me, these mini-fests of melody are as much verbunkos ideally played by Roma musicians in Budapest cafés as they are long-hair music for the concert hall. 19th century crossover, in other words…

But, thank Heaven for the enterprising and immensely gifted Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker, who lets her classical hair down and grabs this music and does not let go until she has drawn every ounce of passion out of it.

The music is familiar, no doubt, having been played and recorded by many a symphony orchestra. But hearing these tunes played with the capriciousness and flair that Ms. Höpcker and maestro Bidini bring to their playing will elicit not only admiration but curiosity on the part of the alert listener.

Originally conceived by Brahms for piano-4 hands, then some for orchestra, these 21 dances were arranged by the composer’s friend, violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim for violin and piano. I am glad Herr Joachim made these arrangements, more than elated than the Höpcker-Bidini duo made the decision to record them, and immensely grateful to DELOS for the production of this nicely-packaged and perfectly engineered CD.

Rafael de Acha                                                                                 WWW.RAFAELMUSICNOTES.COM