Dohnányi • Weiner
Dohnányi: Tante Simona Overture; Suite for Orchestra; American Rhapsody; Weiner: Serenade, Op. 3
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony/Roberto Paternostro
Capriccio C 5380 71:10 mins
The huge popularity of Variations on a Nursery Theme tends to overshadow the rest of Dohnányi’s music. Here, two pieces from relatively early in his career are set alongside his last orchestral work, the American Rhapsody of 1953. The overture to his one-act opera buffa of 1912, Aunt Simona, initially strikes a sombre tone before dissolving into Viennese-style smiles. The Suite from three years earlier shows clear debts to Brahms in the initial set of Variations, and Schumann in the concluding Rondo, but there is much to relish in Dohnányi’s orchestration and his rich melodic accent.
The brief for the American Rhapsody was to produce something akin to Dvořák’s New World Symphony. There are nods in that direction and expertise aplenty, but as a whole it lacks the freshness of the earlier works.
The disc ends with the 1906 Serenade by Dohnányi’s slightly younger compatriot, Leó Weiner. While Dvořák and Brahms are audible in the middle ground, it is a characterful work, with a pleasingly wide-ranging initial Allegretto and a distinctly Hungarian kick to the rhythms in later movements. Roberto Paternostro and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra capture this music’s spirit with enthusiasm aplenty. The rather close recording, however, shows up some less-than-perfect ensemble and some rough intonation.