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Dohnányi: Harp Concertino; Konzertstück etc

Silke Aichhorn (harp), Andrei Ioniţă (cello), Sofja Gülbadamova (piano); Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Modestas Pitrėnas (Capriccio)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Harp Concertino; Konzertstück; Variatons on a Nursery Theme
Silke Aichhorn (harp), Andrei Ioniţă (cello), Sofja Gülbadamova (piano); Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Modestas Pitrėnas
Capriccio C5463   68:14 mins


Heir to the cultural riches of late-19th-century Europe, Dohnányi, born in Bratislava in 1877, studied in Budapest and by his twenties had acquired the reputation as one of Hungary’s greatest pianists. The Konzertstück for Cello and Orchestra, completed in 1904, is a substantial concerto in three connected movements. Andrei Ioniţă is a passionately committed soloist who gets to the elusive soul of the first movement and goes on to revel in the captivating lyricism of the finale. While late Romantic influences come and go, this is a work of genuine originality which well deserves more frequent outings.

The Variations on a Nursery Theme, composed ten years later, is rich in humour and ingenuity, and remains Dohnányi’s best-known work. An absurdly portentous introduction is completely subverted by the ‘nursery theme’ itself, a universal favourite of children best known to us as ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’. Exquisite orchestration abounds alongside some delicious harmonic writing, notably in the waltz Variation (No. 7), and Dohnányi plumbs unexpected depths in Variations 10 (Passacaglia) and 11 (Choral). The dazzlingly virtuoso solo part is superbly delivered by Sofja Gülbadamova.

Written in 1952, toward the end of an often painful life, the colourful and captivating Harp Concertino has a nostalgia occasionally evocative of late Strauss. In all three concertos the solo playing is magnificent. Modestas Pitrėnas and the orchestra accompany with enthusiasm, but ensemble is sometimes uncertain and the sound in some louder tuttis is a touch brash.

Jan Smaczny

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