Dohnanyi: Ruralia hungarica; Six Concert Études, Op. 28; Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song; Pastorale

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COMPOSERS: Dohnanyi
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Ruralia hungarica; Six Concert Études, Op. 28; Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song; Pastorale
PERFORMER: Markus Pawlik (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553332
In comparison with his Hungarian contemporaries Bartók and Kodály, Erno Dohnányi ploughed a far more conventional musical furrow maintaining the traditions of late Romanticism well into the 20th century. In many respects his achievement can be compared to that of Rachmaninoff, so it comes as little surprise to discover that the Russian virtuoso was an enthusiastic interpreter of the Sixth of Dohnányi’s Concert Études. But the other pieces in this set are no less dazzling, particularly the third Ètude in which the two hands are constantly intertwined in digital acrobatics – a spectacle that is surely as exciting to experience visually as aurally.

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None of the other works on this enterprising disc exploit technical virtuosity to the same extent as the Concert Études, though the full-blooded dance movements from Ruralia hungarica certainly stretch the medium to its very limits and inspired Dohnányi to produce a highly effective transcription for orchestra.

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Markus Pawlik, recorded in a rather ungrateful acoustic, makes a brilliant impact in the Concert Études dispatching the technical gymnastics with real bravura. He is equally impressive in the Variations and the gentle Pastorale. But in both the exuberant and rhapsodic sections of Ruralia Hungarica, Jeno Jandó on Koch-Schwann seems to have the edge with a more instinctive phrasing of the folk-inspired melodic material. Erik Levi