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Hyperion Records

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Autumn by Emil Parrag (b1925)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67932
Recording details: December 2011
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: January 2013
Total duration: 27 minutes 32 seconds

'The opening pages of Dohnányi's Op 2 might well have been penned by Brahms in one of his jollier moods … the finale reveals 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 … 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 … and in immeasurably better sound' (Gramophone)

'You can't help but be impressed by Dohnányi's compositional assuredness … all performed with consummate technical mastery and musical insight' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Connoisseurs of late Romanticism and aficionados of early twentieth-century music all owe Martin Roscoe an immense debt of gratitude … it would be difficult to overpraise Roscoe's accomplishment … the music simply flows unimpeded and we are left to bask in Dohnányi, whose music, at its very least, is always subtle, charming, cultivated and immensely communicative. Very warmly recommended' (International Record Review)

'Roscoe's ongoing Hyperion series is cause for celebration … Roscoe yields nothing to the composer as pianist, a testament to his stature in this repertoire … a project of major significance' (International Piano)

'Martin Roscoe is an absolute master when it comes to repertoire such as this and one could well imagine the composer himself looking on as he plays with a smile of approval. This disc is number two in a series of four covering all of Dohnányi’s solo piano music. Together with his recordings of the two piano concertos Roscoe has done this composer a great service in helping him emerge from the success of the aforementioned Variations on a Nursery Tune and show that there was very much more to him than that' (MusicWeb International)

Four Piano pieces, Op 2
composer
1896/7; dedicated to Elsa Kunwald

Scherzo: Allegro  [7'02]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Dohnányi composed his Four Piano Pieces, Op 2, in 1896 and 1897, while he was still a student at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in Budapest (now known as the Franz Liszt Academy). The work’s dedicatee, Dohnányi’s fiancée Elsa Kunwald, would later become his wife and the mother of his children Hans and Margaret, whose diminutive nicknames were Hansel and Gretel.

The first of the Four Pieces is a Scherzo, a fast and humorous movement in a triple-metre genre that dates back to the late eighteenth century. A traditional scherzo takes the form of a minuet, in which an initial section is followed by a trio before returning to round off the movement. In Dohnányi’s Scherzo, the first section is marked by anapaestic rhythms that are continually interrupted by playful pauses and mischievous shifts of key. The middle section features a slow-moving chorale that shifts the tonality from C sharp minor to its enharmonic parallel, D flat major. An insistently beating A flat/G sharp (marked ‘quasi Timp[ani]’ in the score) brings back the opening material. Not content merely to demonstrate a mastery of the time-honoured form, Dohnányi expands it by ending the movement with the themes from both sections in a triumphant C sharp major.

The next two movements are intermezzos, a nineteenth-century title for inner movements from larger works that are typically lighter in character than their outer counterparts. The first Intermezzo, in A minor, again shows Dohnányi’s clever custom of darting impishly from key to key. As with the preceding Scherzo, this Intermezzo follows an extended minuet form in which the trio—a tranquil and deeply emotive section in A major—returns at the end to conclude the movement in the tonic major.

The second Intermezzo, in F minor, is the slowest of the Four Pieces. It is introduced by three lines of poetry by Robert Reinick that are clearly inspired by the oft-quoted promise of fidelity from the biblical book of Ruth: ‘Wo du auch wandelst, bin ich dein, / Wo du auch weilst, du bist ja mein, / Ich hab’ ja dich und meine Liebe!’ (‘Wherever you go, I am yours, / Wherever you live, you are truly mine, / I truly have you, and my love!’). This piece, perhaps more than any other in the set, suggests the passion its composer no doubt felt for its dedicatee—at least at that time, as Kunwald was to be the first of Dohnányi’s three wives.

The final work in Dohnányi’s Four Pieces is a difficult Capriccio in B minor. Fanciful works with this title have been around since the sixteenth century, but in the nineteenth century the genre became associated with rapid staccato figurations. In keeping with contemporary conventions, Dohnányi’s Capriccio adopts not only the style but the form of a scherzo. Once again, however, he could not resist expanding the structure. An agitated opening section gives way to a calm trio in G major, and then returns before introducing a second trio, a chordal episode in B major. As with each of its predecessors, the Capriccio ends in a major key.

from notes by James A Grymes © 2013

Other albums featuring this work
'Dohnányi: Dohnányi plays Dohnányi' (APR7038)
Dohnányi: Dohnányi plays Dohnányi
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