Ernst von Dohnányi

Ernö Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song; Konzertstück for cello; Piano Concerto No. 2

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A scant two years after they passed out of international copyright, the Czech Praga label re-coupled and re-released three of EMI's 1956 recordings of the music of Hungarian-American composer Ernö Dohnányi on this 2008 disc: his Variations on a Nursery Song and Second Piano Concerto with Adrian Boult leading the Royal Philharmonic and his Konzertstücke for cello and orchestra with Walter Süsskind leading the Philharmonia Orchestra. Janos Starker is the soloist in the latter work while the composer, a tremendously talented pianist, serves as the soloist in the former works. In all three cases, the performances are about as fine as one could possibly hope. Starker clearly relishes the dramatic Konzertstücke, bringing his singing tone and his outstanding technique to bear on its ravishing themes and passionate developments with striking results. And Dohnányi himself manifestly enjoys playing these two works, and while his technique doesn't quite match Starker's, his enthusiasm for the music is even greater than the cellist's and the results are thus even more persuasive. Though dedicated fans of the composer are likely to already have these recordings in their EMI incarnations -- which Praga's super audio remastering hardly improves upon -- anyone who enjoys Dohnányi's music who doesn't already know these performances is urged to seek out these recordings.

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