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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: 25 minutes 41 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)

Humoresques in the form of a suite, Op 17
composer
1907

Other recordings available for download
Ernő Dohnányi (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Dohnányi launched his career as a professional pianist with recitals in Berlin on 1 and 7 October 1897. These performances featured the premiere of the third of his Four Pieces, as well as of the Variations and Fugue on a Theme of EG. Over the next eight years Dohnányi would establish himself as one of the leading pianists of his generation with tours throughout Europe, Great Britain, and the United States. In 1905 he consolidated his reputation by accepting a prestigious professorship at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. Two years later, he composed his Humoresques in the form of a suite, Op 17. Like ‘Capriccio’, ‘Humoresque’ (or ‘Humoreske’) was a popular title in the nineteenth century for short, humorous compositions for piano, and in this work Dohnányi arranged five such pieces into a suite. The entire work is notable for its references to previous musical eras—an idea to which Dohnányi would return six years later in his Suite in Olden Style, Op 24.

The score for the first movement is titled simply March, but Dohnányi often referred to it as the ‘March humoresque’ in concert programmes. It is based on a four-beat descending tetrachord that provides an ostinato to all but the last two bars. When Dohnányi performed the March, he would play the ground bass twice as an introduction before commencing the published work.

The second movement is a Toccata, a genre that has been popular since the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Such pieces derived their titles from the Italian word for ‘touched’ because they required advanced technique. Dohnányi includes a reference to the second Prelude from J S Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.

In the third movement Pavane (‘Pavane from the 16th century with variations’), Dohnányi quotes a stately Renaissance dance before varying it five times, again showing his predilection for variation form. In the third variation the composer combines the theme with a quotation of ‘Gaudeamus igitur’, which Brahms famously quoted in his Academic Festival Overture.

The next movement is a Pastorale, a genre associated with the countryside that forms yet another connection to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Just as he would ten years later in his Pastorale ‘Hungarian Christmas Song’ (see volume 1), Dohnányi complies with the standard conventions for composing pastorales by combining drones in the bass that imitate shepherds’ bagpipes with a lilting siciliana in the upper register that is reminiscent of shepherds’ shawms. In this case, the siciliana proves to be a two-part canon.

The final movement is a four-part Fugue. As with the fugal finale of the Variations and Fugue on a Theme of EG, this work is an impressive display of compositional acumen that also demands a virtuoso performer—a perfect vehicle through which the thirty-year-old composer–pianist could confirm his extraordinary skills in both arenas.

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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