Hyperion Records

Konzertstück in D major, Op 12
Erno´´ Dohnányi (he later Germanized his name, and added an aristocratic particle, as Ernst von Dohnányi) was born in Pozsony (now Bratislava) in 1877 and showed exceptional musicality as a child; his career as one of the leading pianists on the international circuit was launched by a performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in London in 1898. Three years earlier Brahms had applauded Dohnányi’s Op 1, a piano quintet, and from then on his composing and his performing wrestled for room in his busy life. After teaching at the Berlin Hochschule from 1905, in 1915 he returned to Budapest, where his tireless activity as performer, composer and administrator laid the ground for the generation to follow, chief among them Bartók and Kodály, who would find a genuine Hungarian voice in music.

Dohnányi’s own compositions, though, speak the koine of Brahmsian, classicizing Romanticism, as his D major Konzertstück, Op 12, of 1903–4 illustrates. Dohnányi grew up with the sound of the cello in his ears – his father was an excellent amateur cellist – and his writing for the instrument is grateful and assured. In a single, half-hour span of music, the Konzertstück manages to be both an integrated one-movement structure and to hint at the bones of symphonic form. The opening Allegro non troppo begins with a rocking figure in the orchestra and a melodic shape from the cello – four rising crotchets and three rising quavers, much expanded and exploited in the development which follows. The music slips into D minor for a pensive central Adagio, where the rocking figure from the outset often features in the orchestral accompaniment. The cello falls silent for a brief, sudden, tonally restless outburst (quasi-scherzo?) which is reined back equally suddenly, to allow the soloist to emerge with a restatement of the opening material, which is soon invested with an emotional urgency that suggests an acquaintance with Mahler’s music; a brief cadenza brings in an Adagio passage during which the cello muses in rocking arpeggios, and again the opening material returns, Tempo I, ma molto più tranquillo, to lay the piece to rest.

from notes by Martin Anderson © 2005

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Details for CDA67544 track 2
Recording date
18 December 2004
Recording venue
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Dohnányi, Enescu & Albert: Cello Concertos (CDA67544)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: September 2005
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