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Dohnanyi: Complete Piano Music Vol 2 / Martin Roscoe

Dohnanyi / Roscoe
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67932  
Composer:  Ernö von Dohnányi
Performer:  Martin Roscoe
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DOHNÁNYI Four Pieces, Op. 2. Variations and Fugue on a Theme of E. G. Humoresques in the Form of a Suite. Valses nobles (after Schubert) Martin Roscoe (pn) HYPERION 67932 (79: 55)

Here, almost exactly a year after the release of Volume 1 ( Fanfare 35:5), is Volume 2 of Hyperion’s planned four-disc edition of the complete solo piano music of Ern? Dohnányi. This volume concentrates Read more on the music of the youthful Dohnányi, written in the decade between the composer’s 20th and 30th birthdays (1897–1907). The most attractive music here is the earliest: the Four Pieces , op. 2. Here the young composer’s distinctive musical personality astonishingly emerges fully formed; together with the Four Rhapsodies , op. 11 (in Volume 1), these may be Dohnányi’s most compelling works for solo piano. Incredibly, there is no other version currently available in the U.S., although I can count at least three other recordings: Martin Roscoe’s 1993 ASV disc and a Koch CD by Jénö Jandó, both out of print, and a version by one Ladislav Fanzowitz on the Pavlik label, currently available only as an import. I have the earlier Roscoe recording and the Jandó, and the latter seems mundane by comparison; the principal difference between the two Roscoe versions (which differ in total timing by three seconds) is the stunning sound captured for Hyperion by producer Jeremy Hayes and engineer Ben Connellan.

The Variations and Fugue on a Theme of E.G. , op. 4, was also written in 1897; E.G. is Emma Gruber, a patroness, amateur pianist, and later the wife of Kodály. Here the previous version known to me is a Hungaroton CD by Ilona Prunyi, no longer available in the U.S. but still listed on mdt.co.uk. In any event, Roscoe plays more elegantly and stylishly, so the current recording again supersedes the earlier one; Prunyi’s disc is most valuable for several smaller works without opus numbers that she includes, pending a determination of how complete Roscoe’s “complete” collection will be.

The Humoresken in Form einer Suite , op. 17, is the latest work here; the title is somewhat misleading, as Dohnányi ingeniously exploits older compositional techniques in each. The opening work is a March over an ostinato bass; the second movement is a Toccata. The third, Pavane from the 16th century with variations , features one variation combining the theme contrapuntally with Gaudeamus igitur , the song Brahms used so prominently at the climax of the Academic Festival Overture ; another variation inverts the theme. The following Pastorale is a canon over a drone bass, and the closing piece is an Introduction and Fugue. Prunyi’s version of this set is still available; Jandó’s is not, but in any event Roscoe trumps both.

The disc concludes with one of Dohnányi’s transcriptions, that of Schubert’s Valses nobles . This is old-style pianism in the Liszt-Rachmaninoff tradition: fluff, but fun fluff, particularly for pianists.

Roscoe plays all this music with stupendous technique and complete sympathy for Dohnányi’s style, and as I mentioned above, the recorded sound is superb. Enthusiastically recommended to all lovers of late-Romantic piano music. Now, Hyperion, let’s have Volumes 3 and 4!

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Emma Gruber, Op. 4 by Ernö von Dohnányi
Performer:  Martin Roscoe (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897; Budapest, Hungary 
Valses nobles, concert arrangement for piano (after Schubert, D. 969) by Ernö von Dohnányi
Performer:  Martin Roscoe (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1920 
Pieces (4) for Piano, Op. 2 by Ernö von Dohnányi
Performer:  Martin Roscoe (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896-1897; Budapest, Hungary 
Humoresken (5) in Form einer Suite, Op. 17 by Ernö von Dohnányi
Performer:  Martin Roscoe (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; Berlin, Germany 

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