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This disc, well recorded in 1998, contains the 21 orchestral versions of the Hungarian Dances that Brahms originally wrote for piano (in various ways for one or more piano and for one or more players).

The orchestral set as presented here makes a deliberate attempt to maximise the Hungarian gypsy feel by incorporating a gypsy fiddler and the cimbalon into arrangements by Brahms (3), Dvorak (3), Parlow (2), Fischer (8), Schollum (2) and Hidas (3). These are really very different in intention and are convincingly done within their own terms of reference. Fischer conducts his regular Budapest Festival orchestra with obvious commitment with over a third of the arrangements being his own.

However, a more 'traditional' set without the Hungarian extras is the one on Naxos with Bogar and the similarly named but different Budapest Symphony orchestra. That disc, well recorded in 1988, contains arrangements by Brahms(3), Dvorak (5), Parlow (6), Schmelling (3), Gal (2), Hallen and Juon (1 each).

Without exception, Bogar like Fischer, chooses exactly the right tempo for each dance so that they all flow and 'dance' effectively. There is a palpable feeling of pleasure or even joy in the playing by the excellent Budapest Symphony orchestra.

Of the various sets that I have owned of these dances these two stand out for sheer enjoyment value. These two sets are really very different in intention and the only answer is to buy both as both are excellent in their different but complementary ways.

I would therefore suggest that both the Bogar and the Fischer sets are the leading contenders for purchasers to consider and that the best solution to this choice is to buy both.
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on 17 March 2015
Lively original performances slightly let down by rather "mushy" distant recorded sound. Something of a missed opportunity by the engineers.
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