Hyperion’s third instalment in their survey of Hungarian Ernö Dohnányi’s solo piano music explores the composer’s period of increasing professional establishment. Dohnányi’s language may be less familiar than contemporaries like Rachmaninov, Ravel, or even Scriabin, but share that early-20th-century strain of romanticism, sparkling impressionism, and the strong influence of folk music.
The real treasure here is Ruralia Hungarica, a multi-movement work exploring folk material from Dohnányi’s homeland, including songs for minstrels, children and soldiers, and an energetic csárdás. Some movements feature songlike phrase structures with splashes of Debussian colour. Others adopt an almost Rachmaninov-like sense of power, with incessant chords in parallel fifths and rich dissonances. In contrast, the Three Pieces (Aria, Valse Impromptu and Capriccio) have a Chopinesque feel. The Gavotte and Musette are cute divertissements, though lacking ingenuity next to Ruralia Hungarica. The album is rounded out with virtuoso waltz arrangements of Delibes’ Nalia Waltz, and Strauss’s Schatz-Walzer and Du und Du.
Martin Roscoe captures every nuance with consummate virtuosity and a flair for negotiating the shifts in mood that characterise Dohnányi’s style. The interpretation is romantic but never overdone, painting in shades that one moment suggest drama, the next serenity. A fine performance of captivating music.