Hyperion Records

Four Rhapsodies, Op 11
1902/3; Vienna; dedicated to István Thomán

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No 1 in G minor: Allegro non troppo, ma agitato
No 2 in F sharp minor: Adagio capriccioso
No 3 in C major: Vivace
No 4 in E flat minor: Andante lugubre

Four Rhapsodies, Op 11
In the autumn of 1901 Dohnányi settled in Vienna. It was here that he composed his Four Rhapsodies, Op 11, which he dedicated to István Thomán. As Dohnányi later told his third wife and biographer Ilona von Dohnányi, this work

can be considered as a sonata in four movements: the first Rhapsody is the first movement, because it has a simpler form; the second Rhapsody replaces the slow movement; the third corresponds to a scherzo of a sonata; the last Rhapsody, an elaboration of the Gregorian chant ‘Dies Irae’, includes the themes of the former three Rhapsodies. I did not call the work ‘sonata’, because its structure is somewhat looser and each piece can be performed separately.

While some listeners have identified a Hungarian flavour to the work, especially in the Rhapsody in F sharp minor, Dohnányi eschewed such attributions. He insisted that the individual movements ‘are not rhapsodies in the sense of the Hungarian Rhapsodies by Liszt, in which Hungarian folksongs are elaborated. My themes are all original, and when people find that their style is Hungarian, it is because I am Hungarian.’

from notes by James A Grymes © 2012

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