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Erno von DohnÁnyi (1877-1960)
Violin Concerto No.1 in D Minor Op. 27 (1915) [40:41]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in C Minor Op. 43 (1949) [30:43]
Michael Ludwig (violin)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 20-21 August 2007. DDD
NAXOS 8.570833 [71:24]


Experience Classicsonline

On the surface these look like concertos with a lot of similarities. They are both lengthy - especially the first - and in the four movements associated with a symphony. One is a product of the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the other of the composer’s refugee status in
Tallahassee, Florida. The same personality is in evidence, but a lot has changed. 

The First Concerto imitates the four movement pattern of the Brahms second piano concerto, although comparisons between the two composers are frequently overdone. Its slightly mysterious opening ably utilizes the mysterious capabilities of the D-minor key. Michael Ludwig is sterling in the opening cadenza and his backed up by an excellent recording. The inventive development section that follows is notable as is the woodwind writing. The second movement is the highlight of the work with a lovely opening theme that leads to a passionate central section, all of it imaginatively scored. The third movement gives the orchestra a chance to show off, although the soloist is not left unoccupied, in a movement featuring a lot of staccato playing. The last movement begins with material from the opening of the concerto. This features some of Ludwig’s best playing. He is also excellent in the exposition of the new movement’s primary theme, which is then put through a series of variations. Finally the opening movement material returns for even more lovely development and a virtuoso finale. 

It’s a long way from Budapest to Tallahassee and the Second Concerto is a darker work than the first, in spite of its tonality. It begins with an affecting cadenza, gentler than the one that begins the first concerto. This ushers in a beautiful main theme, but both these sections go through some darker developments, ending with a somewhat sad recapitulation. The second movement is the fast one in this concerto. It is in the form of an intermezzo that can only be described as rollicking alternating with charming. It provides great opportunities for the violinist. The slow movement is the crown of the work and of the disc. The stately and somber opening incorporates material from the first movement and contains the emotions of a lifetime. This is followed by a cadenza, but this one a song of isolation, followed by a tortured ending. The giocoso last movement follows without a break. I found it a little jarring after the adagio, although fine in itself. 

These concertos have been recorded before but still deserve to be better known than they are; both can be rated outstanding. In terms of his performance Michael Ludwig hits all the required emotional stops as well as showing almost unremitting virtuosity in two long and very difficult works. JoAnn Falletta follows him all the way and demonstrates again that she is at home in any repertoire. She also elicits fine playing from the Royal Scottish national orchestra, indeed better even than their usual high standard. I have heard several recordings made in the Henry Wood Hall recently and this one has only confirmed my positive impression of this hall as a recording venue. Music that it is essential to obtain on whatever disc you get it.

William Kreindler

see also Review by Kevin Sutton


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