DOHNANYI: Piano Quintets No. 1 in C, Op. 1 & No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 33; Cello Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 8 – Kocian Quartet/ Jaromir Klepac, piano/ Michal Kanka, cello – Praga Digitals

by | Aug 28, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

DOHNANYI: Piano Quintets No. 1 in C, Op. 1 & No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 33; Cello Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 8 – Kocian Quartet/ Jaromir Klepac, piano/ Michal Kanka, cello – Praga Digitals multichannel SACD  PRD/DSD 250 249, 80 min. ***** [Not distr. in U.S.]:

Halfway thru first auditioning this delightful disc I was wondering why it was decided not to distribute it with the other Praga SACDs in the U.S.!  The early cello sonata is a straightforward lyrical work in the style of Brahms’ cello sonatas.  It serves a sort of intermission between the two impassioned super-romantic quintets which are full of soaring melody, energy and originality.  The influences of  Brahms, Liszt and Schubert are heard but basically the quintets illustrate a peak in the neo-romantic style infused with Hungarian nationalism in music.

The first quintet of 1895 is in four movements with the last full of rhythmic inventiveness. The second quintet of 1914 was written in Berlin, has three movements, and follows the Lisztian style of interplay between the piano and the four string instruments. Its finale features a chorale and fugue.  The Kocian Quartet is one of the finest in the world, and has given over 2500 concerts in 30 countries.  The DSD recording was made in Prague just last year and is of highest quality.

Dohnanyi had a very long career as not only a composer, but a pianist, conductor, and mainstay of the Hungarian musical scene between the two world wars. He aided his younger compatriots Bartok and Weiner and in the early years of the 20th century traveled his country along with Bartok and a cylinder gramophone, collecting authentic folk music. He created a national school music education policy based on choral singing, since the schools were too poor to have pianos or other instruments. (I was honored to participate in one of his demonstration classes at Stanford University in the late ‘60s.)

 – John Sunier

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