Here is a varied and colorful selection of Hungarian double bass music which takes the listener on a journey to Hungary, a journey which also reveals many strong influences of Central Europe. Through this recording Leon Bosch pays a personal tribute to his first influential double bass teacher, Hungarian Zoltan Kovats who has lived in South Africa since 1965. An inspiring teacher at the College of Music in Cape Town, Mr. Kovats, now a member for the World Orchestra for Peace, writes that "the strongest influence of the Hungarian bass school originated from Viennese and Czech bass players like Franz Simandl, Josef Hrabĕ, Eduard Madenski, Adolf Misek and Josef Emmanuel Storch, among others.”
Leon’s selected repertoire reflects this influential history of Hungarian double bass pedagogy, and highlights the history and close geographical proximity of its players. Looking back through time a musical link is made between Montag and Simandl – as Montag studied with Bertalen Tintner, who in turn studied with Simandl in Vienna. And further back, as Simandl studied with Hrabĕ at the Prague Conservatoire between 1855 -1862, firstly becoming principle double bassist at the Vienna Court Orchestra and then at Bayreuth.
So this connection is made in the choice of the music, through Leon’s original arrangements of Liszt’s powerful "La Lugugbre Gondola" to the performance of more standard repertoire such as the Austrian influence in Takács’ Old Hungarian “Hofballmusik”, from Bartók’s “Sonatina on Transylvanian Themes”, again a new transcription, to “Extreme” by Montag himself. Operatic, wild changes of character and mood within “Extreme” recalls that “nagybogo”, the Hungarian word used for “double bass”, can be translated literally as “the big screamer”, meaning one who cries with tears, abundant tears flowing, as Hungarian colleagues of mine pointed out, it is howling out of control like a child, or even an animal!