British pianist Martin Roscoe has set out to revive the piano music of Ernö Dohnányi, largely overshadowed by Bartók, with a series of recordings of his complete piano music for Hyperion. They are all beautifully and idiomatically recorded at Hyperion's favored recital venue, Potton Hall. This third volume is something of a mixed bag, but is worth the price of admission for the opening work, Ruralia hungarica, Op. 32a. These short pieces, composed in 1923 and 1924, are based on Hungarian folk songs collected and published by Bartók and Kodály, and it's fascinating to hear this material inflected through a voice different from those of the two better-known composers. Dohnányi is more conservative tonally, but he does not smooth out the fascinating rhythms of these tunes. Even better is the imaginative virtuoso treatment of the source material, both here and in the Variations on a Hungarian folksong, Op. 29, with its unique mix of analysis of the tune and big performance fireworks. The virtuoso tradition is present in the final waltz arrangements on the album, reminiscent of what Liszt might have written if he had taken up waltzes. Finally there's an odd forerunner of neo-classicism, the early Gavotte and Musette of 1898. Roscoe gets the ambition of the Ruralia hungarica, which were recorded by Dohnányi himself but are far from common works. Recommended for those interested in the Eastern European interwar scene.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Ruralia hungarica, Op. 32a|
|Three Pieces, Op. 23|