This is the third volume of Martin Roscoe’s complete Dohnányi solo piano music cycle, and with a superb disc of the two piano concertos (hopefully the Variations on a Nursery Theme will follow), to say nothing for an early disc of the two piano quintets, there is a wealth of material to delight and consider.
Dohnányi’s legendary status as a pianist, teacher and composer is confirmed not only in Roscoe’s wide-ranging programme but in performances as commanding and warm-hearted as you could wish. His most substantial offering is the Ruralia hungarica, which later appeared in a variety of forms (I recall a performance for violin and piano by Alfredo Campoli). A seven-movement accumulation of Hungarian melodies and ideas, it vividly contrasts gentle musings with vigorous virtuoso ripostes. The fifth movement, of ‘rustic simplicity, delicacy and tenderness’, reminds you of how so many of Dohnányi’s piano works can cut down into teasing and affectionate encores.
The Variations on a Hungarian Theme should never have been allowed to slip out of the repertoire and the three waltz paraphrases are delicious confections, spun off by Roscoe in relaxed rather than pressured style. Here he allows you your own space, never forcing the issue, though he ends Du und Du in a blaze of ballroom light. Superb sound and presentation make this a delectable disc.