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Hyperion Records

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Three Trees (1965) by Emil Parrag (b1925)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67699
Recording details: January 2009
Jerusalem Music Centre, Israel
Produced by Eric Wen
Engineered by Zvi Hirshler
Release date: April 2010
Total duration: 12 minutes 7 seconds

'Shaham and Erez give an excellent performance [Dohnányi Sonata], Shaham's seductive tone and elegant phrasing being well matched by Erez's sensitive touch. The Ruralia hungarica pieces show the composer's more nationalistic side but are still farily traditional in their approach to folk material. Shaham is in his element here—the brilliant final piece carefree and dashing in style, the preceding, improvisatory Andante rubato alla zingaresca graceful and stylish' (Gramophone)

'The strongly Brahmsian Sonata [Dohnányi] is given a warm and affectionate reading, the central variation movement imaginatively characterised with Shaham's honeyed tone proving an ideal foil for Arnon Erez's bold and dynamic piano playing. But it's the more folksy Ruralia hungarica that draws the most compelling performance, Shaham negotiating the challenging violin pyrotechnics of the outer movements with impressive powerhouse playing as well as delivering a wonderfully atmospheric Andante rubato alla Zingaresca' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Hagai Shaham gives a deliciously rich and eloquent account of Dohnányi's Violin Sonata … it is thrilling, captivating playing, joyous and tender … there are sumptuous moments in Janáĉek's Sonata, too, but this is darker stuff, and Shaham brings to it a gentle sensibility … the rapport between Shaham and Arnon Erez, itself a notable feature of the disc, is quite wonderful in the tricky ensemble and fractured discourse of this sonata' (The Strad)

Ruralia hungarica, Op 32c
composer
published 1924; movements 1 & 3 derived from the Opp 32a (solo piano) and 32b (orchestral) versions of the work

Presto  [4'23]
Molto vivace  [2'03]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The most important work that Dohnányi based on Hungarian folk sources is the group of four compositions entitled Ruralia hungarica which he published in 1924 as his opus 32. They have complex internal relations. Op 32a is a seven-movement suite for solo piano composed in 1923; he then arranged five of these movements as an orchestral suite, Op 32b (the best-known of the four works) that formed his contribution to the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the merging of the cities of Buda and Pest as Budapest. Two further Ruralia hungarica compositions followed: Op 32c, for violin and piano, is partly a transcription of material in Opp 32a and 32b but has one entirely new movement; while Op 32d, for cello and piano, is based on that new movement and owes nothing to Opp 32a and 32b. Unusually for him, Dohnányi founded his Ruralia hungarica works on authentic Hungarian folksongs, chosen from a volume from Transylvania (which had been part of Hungary until ceded to Romania in 1920) that had been collected by Kodály and Bartók and also published as part of the Budapest celebrations.

The opening Presto is a transcription of the lively movement that comes second in both the solo piano and orchestral suites; likewise the concluding Molto vivace is an arrangement of the movement that stands as the finale in Opp 32a and 32b. Both of them function perfectly as virtuoso violin display pieces in this new instrumental context. The middle movement of Op 32c, however, is unrelated to the other Ruralia hungarica pieces. The designation ‘alla Zingaresca’ suggests that Dohnányi’s intention was to produce a piece in more traditional ‘Hungarian gypsy’ style, an interpretation that is borne out by the cimbalom imitations in the piano and the floridly rhapsodic violin-writing in this delicious movement, probably the romantic high-point of all Dohnányi’s violin compositions.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

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