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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 favoured 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 inflicted 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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