Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ernő Dohnányi - Piano Music Vol. 2 (Martin Roscoe)


Composer: Ernő Dohnányi
  • (01-04) 4 Piano Pieces, Op. 2
  • (05-06) Variations and Fugue on a theme of EG, Op. 4
  • (07-11) Humoresques in the form of a suite, Op. 17
  • (12) Valses nobles, after Schubert

Martin Roscoe, piano
Date: 2013
Label: Hyperion



Second disc in Roscoe’s Hyperion Dohnányi cycle

The opening pages of Dohnányi’s Op 2 might well have been penned by Brahms in one of his jollier moods. Yet, though written when Dohnányi was a 20-year-old student in Budapest, the music soon reveals, as James A Grymes observes in his useful booklet-note, ‘an exuberant and distinctive compositional voice’. I thought this Suite (it lasts just over 27 minutes) a real find full of interesting, arresting ideas, impish wit and not a little passion (the Intermezzo is a love song to the work’s dedicatee, Elsa Kunwald, who would become the first of his three wives) and, in the finale, a taste for bravura writing in the great pianist-composer tradition.

The Variations may be Brahms-lite, too, but no less appealing, helped not a little by Martin Roscoe’s sensitive sculpting and dynamic shading. The subtle changes he rings in the repeat of the theme’s initial statement are an indication of the care and imagination he brings to the whole score. If the fugue finale is full of vim and confidence, the four-part fugue which ends the Op 17 Suite is even finer, preceded by a Schumannesque March, a scintillating Toccata, a Pavane with variations and a Pastorale. It’s a delightful, unusual work which, like the two before it, well deserves a place in the regular repertoire. Roscoe rounds off this rewarding voyage of discovery with Dohnányi’s transcription of nine of Schubert’s 12 Valses nobles in performances which surpass the composer’s own somewhat untidy 1956 recording (Hungaroton) and in immeasurably better sound: at Potton Hall (Ben Connellan and Jeremy Hayes) they know how to do these things.

-- Jeremy NicholasGramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / RECORDING: *****


Ernő Dohnányi (July 27, 1877 – February 9, 1960) was a Hungarian conductor, composer and pianist. He used a German form of his name, Ernst von Dohnányi, on most of his published compositions. Dohnányi's compositional style was personal, but very conservative. His music largely subscribes to the Neoromantic idiom. Some characterize his style as traditional mainstream Euro-Germanic in the Brahmsian manner (structurally rather than the way the music actually sounds) rather than specifically Hungarian, while others hear very little of Brahms in his music.


Martin Roscoe (born 3 August 1952 in Halton, Runcorn, Cheshire) is an English classical pianist, who performs as a concerto soloist, as a recitalist and as a chamber musician. He studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music with Gordon Green and Marjorie Clementi. He has a repertoire of over 100 concertos performed or recorded. His chamber music partnerships include Peter Donohoe, Tasmin Little, Jennifer Pike and many more. Having had over 500 broadcasts, including seven BBC Prom appearances, Martin is one of the most regularly played pianists on BBC Radio 3.


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