Solo Piano Music, Vol. 4
Martin Roscoe (piano)
Hyperion CDA68054 81:20 mins
In the rich field of Hungarian music, Ernő Dohnányi remains a somewhat marginalised figure. It’s true that, at least when compared with his friends Bartók and Kodály, his style was a little conservative, but this fourth and final volume in Martin Roscoe’s survey of the complete piano music is a reminder of Dohnányi’s own value. With its focus on genre pieces linking him to traditions of the past, it also reflects how Dohnányi saw himself, in the line of great pianist-composers.
That said, there’s a slight solidity rather than (say) Lisztian transcendentalism or Chopinesque brilliance about the Six Concert Etudes that open this disc. Roscoe’s ruggedness works especially well in the fourth piece, with its juggernaut climax requiring notation across four staves. No. 6 in F minor, the best-known of the set, has a two-against-three instability that makes some performances bumpier than others (the composer’s own recording is not bad, considering it was made 10 days before his death in 1960), and this could do with a little more insouciance.
These warm performances of the Suite in the Olden Style and the Six Pieces Op. 41 capture Dohnányi’s humanity, but the highlight is surely Roscoe’s towering account of the early (1899) Passacaglia in E flat minor, evoking the music’s magnificent line going back through Brahms to Bach. The generously-filled disc ends with the Rondo alla Zingarese, Dohnányi’s 1920 arrangement of the finale from Brahms’s G minor Piano Quartet (made 17 years before Schoenberg orchestrated the whole work). Liner notes by the Dohnányi authority James A Grymes enhance the value of this series.