Composers: Ernö Dohnányi
Compositions: Six Concert Etudes, Six Pieces, Suite in the Olden Style, 6 Piano Pieces, Passacaglia in E Flat Minor, Rondo alla Zingarese
Performers: Martin Roscoe p
Catalogue Number: Hyperion CDA68054
A trawl through the websites of Australia’s major orchestras shows that there’s not much Ernö Dohnányi to be heard this year. There’s even less chance of hearing any of his piano works and this is our great loss, as shown by Martin Roscoe’s magnificent four-volume survey of the complete works.
The popular UK pianist finishes the Hyperion series with a program that shows the Hungarian attempting to establish himself in the composer-pianist pantheon by using genres popularised by his predecessors. Thus we get the Six Concert Etudes, inspired by his compatriot Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes; a Suite in the olden style (Debussy and Ravel); Six Pieces (character pieces – Chopin, Schubert and Schumann) and an homage to JS Bach with the brooding, atmospheric Passacaglia. To finish on a high Roscoe gives a spanking, sparkling performance of Dohnányi’s paraphrase of the fourth movement of Brahms’ Piano Quartet No 1, Op. 25.
There’s plenty of meat on the bone here. The etudes are magnificent (Dohnányi favoured No 3, No 6 was popular with Rachmaninov and Horowitz), but most moving of all is the final of the Six Pieces, Cloches, a memorial to his son who died in a Russian prison camp in World War II. At a generous 80 minutes, and with Roscoe in scintillating form, this makes a fitting finale for a series which might help restore Dohnányi to his rightful place among the great keyboard composers.