Album review: Dohnanyi Piano Quintets

Album review: Dohnanyi Piano Quintets



The Schubert Ensemble of London (Helios 55412)

Rating: 4.5/5

Erno Dohnanyi (1877-1960) was the great Hungarian Romantic at an age when his contemporaries Bartok and Kodaly were experimenting with dissonance and use of folk music. His idioms lay in the Austro-Germanic past, best shown in his two piano quintets.

The better-known First Quintet In C Minor (1895), a teenage effort, could have come from the quill of Brahms himself, who delighted in infusing his music with a Magyar flavour and vibe. The slow movement's languorous cello melody, reminiscent of Brahms' Third Piano Quartet, provides the work's most memorable minutes.

The Second Quintet In E Flat Minor (1914) is just as conservative and accessible, but with darker, more introspective shades. British pianist William Howard and his colleagues of The Schubert Ensemble give lively and beautifully detailed performances. A substantial filler is the five-movement Serenade for string trio, which makes for engaging listening.

All this represents extremely good value at a budget price.

This article was published on April 10 in The Straits Times.

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