So what if Liszt spent most of his life in France and Germany and never learned to speak Hungarian? The music of the Magyars' fiery favorite son played by a hot-blooded local boy is an irresistible combination. Even the delightful Dohnanyi filler (variations on ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'') doesn't really douse the flames. Put it in the CD player and let 'er rip! Just be sure to remove all flammable vestments first. (Entertainment Weekly)
Although apart from Nos. 3 and 4 Mendelssohn’s Symphonies turn up surprisingly rarely in concert programmes there are now many complete recordings from which the collector can choose. For anyone with a special interest in the composer the chance to compare the approaches of, say, Karajan, Abbado, Sawallisch and Masur may well be irresistible, and when versions by other distinguished conductors who have recorded only individual Symphonies, including Toscanini, Norrington and Gardiner, are added the choices seem endless.
The penultimate volume in Hyperion’s four-part survey of the complete solo piano music of Ernő Dohnányi focuses on music from the period when the composer’s pre-eminent position was being assured. The titles of the largest works here, Ruralia hungarica and the Variations on a Hungarian Folksong, mask in their nationalistic ostentation the skill of a true master of piano composition. Martin Roscoe inhabits the world of Dohnányi’s music like no other—appraisals of the earlier volumes attest to this—and this new recording is a joy.
Claudio Arrau recorded these concertos twice for Philips, the present performances in 1963, and then again in 1980 with Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony. There's very little to choose between them. Tempos are almost identical, and contrary to what one might expect, the slow movement of the Schumann concerto is actually a bit faster in the later version. Arrau's way with the music is wholly characteristic of the man: serious, even reverential (at the beginning of the Schumann), and played with drop-dead gorgeous tone. The result enhances the stature of both works, but the Grieg in particular. The climax of the finale has an epic grandeur without a hint of bombast that you simply won't find in any other performance. Dohnányi's accompaniments are also distinguished: he lets Arrau lead but isn't afraid to permit the orchestra to assert itself where necessary; and of course the playing of the Concertgebouw is top-notch. If you haven't heard Arrau in this music, it really doesn't matter which of his recordings you wind up with, but do try to get at least one of them.
This month, on the Chandos Classics label, we are re-releasing our recording of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor and the Konzertstück for Cello and Orchestra by Dohnányi (CHAN8662), performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras, with Raphael Wallfisch the featured soloist.
Erno” Dohnányi is the least celebrated of the seminal triumvirate of twentieth-century Hungarian composers; Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók have become household names, yet Dohnányi’s posthumous fame hangs upon an unrepresentative handful of compositions. This recording brings together three of his finest chamber works; the two masterful yet hugely contrasting Piano Quintets, and his remarkable essay in that most underutilized of instrumental genres, the string trio.
Earl Wild has augmented the strings and added a bass part to these great quintets. The result is a unique listening experience that packs a huge emotional punch. Wild plays both the Schumann and the Dohnanyi with breathtaking virtuosity and sumptuous poetry with strong support from the strings. This is the Schumann Piano Quintet as you have never heard it: passionate, yearning, and seething with authentic romantic fervor. This disc shows Wild at his brilliant best accompanied by absolutely gorgeous string playing. It's an astonishingly fine release.American Record Guide, Oct. 2000
This packed four cd set is a bargain in quantity and quality. Dohnanyi can be great, as in his Decca Mozart
symphonies 35-41, wind concerti and sinfonia concertnte k364 et al. I heard him live once with the Boston SO: a supremely dramatic and large-scaled Schubert Unfinished and a terrific Brahms Violin Concerto with Frank Peter Zimmermann.