Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ernő Dohnányi - Violin Concertos (Michael Ludwig)


Composer: Ernő Dohnányi
  1. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 2: I. Molto moderato, maestoso e rubato
  2. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 2: II. Andante
  3. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 2: III. Molto vivace
  4. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 2: IV. Tempo del primo pezzo, rubato
  5. Violin Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 43: I. Allegro molto maestoso
  6. Violin Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 43: II. Intermezzo. Allegro comodo e scherzando
  7. Violin Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 43: III. Adagio molto sostenuto
  8. Violin Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 43: IV. Allegro risoluto e giocoso

Michael Ludwig, violin
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Date: 2008
Label: Naxos



A romantic revisiting… where moments of great originality lift the music

Fascinating to hear these two works one after the other, the First Concerto (1915) representing the naively romantic world that the Second (1946) revisits so poignantly, and so knowingly. The First Concerto employs the harmonic language of Wagner and Strauss in combination with rich Brahmsian textures, its most memorable moment being the harp-accompanied melody in the Andante second movement. Both concertos are sizeable four-movement structures, but the
First is the less disciplined of the two by far with a 14-minute finale that incorporates both a Brahmsian-style chorale theme and a Mendelssohnian use of arpeggios.

Turn to the better-known Second Concerto and you’ll encounter leaner textures, stronger themes and a more rigorous structure. There are moments of great originality too, such as the passage towards the end of the Intermezzo where the soloist plays harmonics against glissando trombones and then the finale’s horn-accompanied cadenza. The sombre (and extremely beautiful) Adagio is a sorrowful song indeed, an elegy that seems to reflect both historical and personal tragedy. Dohnányi would never fully shake off the stigma of moving from Hungary to Austria in the last years of the Second World War, even though he personally opposed so much of what was happening in Nazi-occupied territories.

Competition includes a fine version of the Second with James Ehnes (Chandos, 11/04) but there is no currently listed version of the First. Michael Ludwig plays with abundant feeling and JoAnn Falletta directs wholly sympathetic accounts of the two orchestral scores. A satisfying and educative release, one that I would strongly recommend.

-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

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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.


Michael Ludwig is an Amerian violinist, recording artist and chamber musician. He studied violin with his father, Irving Ludwig, who was a violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra and music director of the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra. Ludwig was hailed by The Strad magazine for his "effortless, envy-provoking technique…sweet tone, brilliant expression, and grand style". As a soloist, he has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, collaborating with such conductors as JoAnn Falletta and Sir Georg Solti.


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