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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from APR7038
Recording details: September 1956
Abbey Road Studios, London, United Kingdom
Release date: February 2004
Total duration: 4 minutes 56 seconds

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

No 3a: Pavane: Allegretto, quasi andante  [0'48]  recorded 3 September 1956
No 3b: Variation 1: Dolce  [0'52]  recorded 3 September 1956
No 3c: Variation 2: Poco più mosso  [0'48]  recorded 3 September 1956
No 3d: Variation 3: Scherzando  [0'45]  recorded 3 September 1956
No 3e: Variation 4: Meno mosso, ma agitato  [0'42]  recorded 3 September 1956
No 3f: Variation 5: Tranquillo  [1'01]  recorded 3 September 1956

Other recordings available for download
Martin Roscoe (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: The Complete Solo Piano Music, Vol. 2' (CDA67932)
Dohnányi: The Complete Solo Piano Music, Vol. 2
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