Dohnanyi: Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 1; Piano Quintet No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26; Serenade in C, Op. 10

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COMPOSERS: Dohnanyi
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 1; Piano Quintet No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26; Serenade in C, Op. 10
PERFORMER: Schubert Ensemble of London
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66786
Dohnányi’s two Piano Quintets are possibly the greatest post-Brahmsian adventures in the genre. Decca’s Schiff/Takács version of Op. 1 was joined only last year by Martin Roscoe and the Vanbrugh Quartet, whose ASV issue also includes Op. 26. Both are superb, and though I’d overlook Schiff on the grounds of incompleteness, neither of these discs is demonstrably outclassed by this latest contender from Hyperion. The Schubert Ensemble of London turns in fresh, vital and spirited performances, though without the conspicuously inspirational flair of Roscoe and the Vanbrughs.

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But this Hyperion release scores decisively in its choice of coupling. The Piano Quintets frame Dohnányi’s C major Serenade for string trio, which, as I suggest in my CD booklet note here, is this century’s finest essay in that mistrusted medium. It receives an athletic, alluring performance, effectively counterpoising William Howard’s declamatory pianism in the quintets. Recorded sound is more natural and less fatiguing than the closer, harsher ASV production, and probably represents the more attractive option. Michael Jameson