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The music of Ernő Dohnányi has been woefully underrepresented on disc, so Roscoe’s ongoing Hyperion series (this is the second volume) is cause for celebration.

Any exploration into Dohnányi’s piano music must begin with APR’s Dohnányi plays Dohnányi, although there is not much overlap with the present collection except for the Intermezzo Op 2/3. Roscoe yields nothing to the composer, a testament to his stature in this repertoire. The shadow of Brahms’ Intermezzi looms particularly over the music in Roscoe’s reading.

The rest of Roscoe’s Op 2 is given with a commanding sense of rhythm and Mendelssohnian charm. The Variations and Fugue are on a simple minuet by Emma Gruber (a Budapest benefactress). This was the first time Dohnányi added a fugue to a set of variations. Roscoe characterises each variation expertly. Again, there are Brahmsian overtones, with Dohnányi adding to the harmonies to make the sound his own. The move to a climax prior to the fugue is perfectly judged; the fugue itself, while complex, dances before rising to a granitic close.

The Humoresques in the Form of a Suite comprises five movements (March; Toccata; Pavane from the 16th Century with Variations; Pastorale; Introduction and Fugue). The Toccata is remarkable, almost nightmarish, in true contrast with the serenity of the Pavane, beautifully presented by Roscoe. A spiky fugue completes the suite. The Schubert arrangement (some waltzes are omitted and the first waltz is used as a refrain) is delightful. Roscoe’s Dohnányi series is turning into a project of major significance.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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