Written in 1897-1898, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 5, of Ernst von Dohnányi is clearly the work of an extremely skilled musical epigone. Harmonically, thematically, and structurally, there is nothing in the work that the most reactionary musical conservative would have found innovative, much less radical or modern. Cast in the standard three-movement concerto form of a highly dramatic Allegro followed by a contemplative and then passionate Andante and concluded with a exciting climactic Vivace, Dohnányi does add certain small, individual touches: an Adagio maestoso introduction that contains the motive seed out of which the work's themes grow and a Cadenza con orchestra in the heart of the closing Vivace. This is not to say that the concerto is without its charms: Dohnányi's fundamentally conservative Brahmsian manner is spiced with touches of Hungarian turns of phrase and harmonic pungencies. But in an era when Strauss and Mahler were approaching atonality and Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern were about to cross over into atonality, Dohnányi's First sounds distinctly old-fashioned.
Description by James Leonard
- Adagio maestoso - Allegro - Adagio
- Vivace - Cadenza con orchestra - Vivace