Dohnanyi: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor; Piano Concerto No. 2 in B minor

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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor; Piano Concerto No. 2 in B minor
PERFORMER: Martin Roscoe (piano)BBC Scottish SO/Fedor Glushchenko
This is the sixth disc in Hyperion’s pioneering series ‘The Romantic Piano Concerto’. The composers represented so far (Medtner, Moszkowski, Balakirev, Paderewski, among others) lie on the fringe of musical history. But when you hear their efforts in this most popular of genres, it seems incredible that today’s concert repertoire is dominated by such a tiny group of concertos by better-established composers. Moszkowski’s E major concerto, the first in the series, is splendidly luscious but spiked with an insouciant verve. The Medtner concertos have a polished splendour that would, under different circumstances, rival Rachmaninov’s concertos in popularity.


The Dohnányi concertos on the most recent issue were composed 50 years apart, yet the Romantic idiom is as firmly entrenched in the Second (composed after World War II) as you would expect it to be in the First. Dohnányi was largely unconcerned with the developing musical language of the 20th century. Having said that, the Second Concerto betrays the influence of some of the folk and nationalistic elements that were so pivotal in the development of Dohnányi’s compatriot Bartók. The last movement seems to foreshadow the sparse, impish character of Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto, composed ten years later.

But the First Concerto is happily wedged in a world somewhere between Brahms and Saint-Saëns, glittering with the easy elegance and confidence of the era in which it was composed. It is a tribute to the commitment of soloist and orchestra that these concertos, like the others in the series, sound so accomplished. With such determined advocacy, there is no reason why they should not find a regular place on the concert platform.


Christopher Lambton