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Erno Dohnanyi
Erno Dohnanyi
Concertino for Harp and Chamber Orchestra -- Sextet in C Major -- Six Pieces for Piano
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Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Concertino for Harp and Chamber Orchestra"

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Some musical figures are born at the wrong time for their particular stylistic predilections. Erno Dohnanyi (1877-1960) was a Romantic, a Brahms devotee whose music seemed old-fashioned in the context of musical modernity. However, stylistic issues matter little when you're faced with material as substantive as the works featured here.

The American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, renders a spot-on version of the Concertino for Harp and Chamber Orchestra, written in 1952. Soloist Sara Cutler gives a fleet-fingered and sometimes playful interpretation of this lithe and charming work. The Sextet in C Major, written in 1935, provides hints of Richard Strauss in the horn melodies of its first movement, while its finale is a distinctly European trope on American jazz, a la Weill or Hindemith.

Todd Crow performs Six pieces for Piano, written in 1945. One of these, titled Cloches (Bells), is particularly affecting, a mournful elegy in remembrance of Dohnanyi's son, who died in a Russian POW camp during the Second World War. The tolling of funeral bells throughout the work is set against an angst-filled soaring melody. This recording demonstrates that Dohnanyi's music, consummately skillful and wide-ranging in its emotional content, is certainly deserving of more frequent performances.



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