Dohnanyi, Martinu, Schoenberg

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COMPOSERS: Dohnanyi,Martinu,Schoenberg
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Dohnanyi, Martinu, Schoenberg
WORKS: Serenade in C, Op. 10
PERFORMER: Leopold String Trio
No surprise that Dohnányi’s ebullient Serenade enjoys a strong representation in the catalogue. Like much of this late-Romantic master’s chamber output, the work is beautifully laid out for the three instruments, its allusions to Hungarian folk-music transcending the obviously Brahmsian provenance of the thematic material. This warmly engineered recording from the Leopold String Trio must rank amongst the finest ever committed to disc, the players relishing every opportunity to demonstrate their individual virtuosity whilst at the same time ensuring that subtlety of nuance and variety of texture are the order of the day in the more reflective movements such as the Romanza and the Tema con Variazioni.


Worlds apart from the elegance of the Dohnányi is Schoenberg’s String Trio. Its graphic portrayal of the composer’s near-fatal heart attack in 1946 inspired music of the greatest intensity which at times recalls the frenzied expressionism of such pieces as Erwartung. Again the Leopold String Trio capture the essence of this disturbing work, their volatile yet highly lucid account more than matching the famous DG recording by members of the LaSalle Quartet.


In many respects the Martin? provides a stylistic halfway house between the other two works, its dense and bustling rhythmic activity captured here with tremendous forward momentum rounding off a highly enterprising programme. Prospective purchasers might be put off by the fact that Hyperion only provide 56 minutes’ worth of music. A rival coupling, which includes the Dohnányi and Schoenberg with the Berlin Philharmonic String Trio on the Arte Nova label, certainly offers better value for money but doesn’t do the performers any favours by being closely miked and somewhat limited in dynamic range. Erik Levi