Dohnányi • Kodály • Liszt
Too often, composer centenaries seem to have a negative effect: the music’s relentless over-exposure in the anniversary year is followed by a weariness-induced moratorium that can last for decades. But Liszt’s 2011 bicentenary has had pleasingly positive results, showing that the quality of so much of his music, however denigrated by repute, is impossible to ignore – like the original works and arrangements recorded here. Besides the two memorable late Elegies, Wallfisch and York deliver an impressive performance of the fate-haunted La lugubre gondola, better known as the second of Liszt’s two piano pieces of that title, but in fact a cello-and-piano original. Another Liszt arrangement, of his song Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth, explores long and poignant perspectives of memory in the way that the ageing composer had made uniquely his own.
The other exceptional music here is Kodály’s early, two-movement Cello Sonata Op. 4 – already a strikingly strong and individual work, and matched for quality by his later Adagio and Sonatina. While the very young Ernó´ Dohnányi’s Cello Sonata is graced with equally superlative playing, even this can’t quite transform the music’s Brahmsian idiom into something as memorable, while the later Ruralia Hungarica is a garrulous piece of pseudo-nationalism. Fine recorded sound surrounds the exceptional playing with just the right amount of resonance.