Dohnányi plays Dohnányi
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Andante and Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6 [10:38]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Andante favori in F major, WoO 57 (1803) [7:47]
Piano Sonata No.17 in D minor, Op.31 No.2 Tempest (1802) [18:57]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen, Op.15 (1838) with spoken introductions by Dohnányi [16:38]
Ernö DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Variations on a Nursery tune, Op.25 (1914) [23:05]
Ernö Dohnányi (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
rec. 1951 (solos) and September 1956, Abbey Road, Studio 1, London (Variations on a Nursery tune)
We are moving to a position where almost all Dohnányi’s recordings as a pianist are available; certainly in the case of the studio recordings. This release completes the release of his Remington LP performances begun on PACM078 – the three Brahms sonatas with violinist Albert Spalding, somewhat painful examples of late Spalding - and PASC381, where we find his own Violin Sonata, again with Spalding, and the Four Rhapsodies.
Haydn’s Andante and Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6 was taped for Remington in 1951 and displays a degree of expressive romanticism to emerge from, or – if one is unsympathetic – to be overlain on the music. Beethoven’s Andante favori, from the same time, is a convincing performance of largely unchallenging music and prefaces the greater challenges of the Sonata in D minor, the Tempest. Here one gets something of an insight into Dohnányi’s recreative conceptions though they are ones somewhat compromised by a technique that is liable to strain in the finale. Nevertheless this is an important document in his discography and it is invaluably made available here, in a fine transfer, insofar as any transfer of a Remington disc can be said to be fine; certainly the restoration is fine. These pieces were released on a different LP to that of Schumann’s Kinderszenen, recorded, I assume, at the same time, or around the same time. The interesting feature of this 1951 LP is that we hear spoken introductions (in English), by the pianist, to each scene. The overriding feature here is of a romanticist approach to the music in which legato and rubato play a profoundly important role. There are times when he comes almost to a full stop, though the mock heroics of An Important Event are well done. Träumerei is not too slow, with a flexible pulse, and one really does feel the child does indeed fall asleep in the penultimate scene. The poet, speaking, is very plain-speaking indeed; no Carl Friedberg here.
The most familiar item is the only non-Remington, the September 1956 Abbey Road recording of the Variations on a Nursery tune. He had recorded it in London a quarter of a century earlier with Lawrence Collingwood but here had the advantage of Boult – there were attempts to interest Beecham with, after all, his own orchestra, but they fell through – directing the Royal Philharmonic. This was recorded at the same sessions that gave us the Second Piano Concerto, released on Pristine PASC381. The earliest releases were on mono LP but this Pristine has been transferred from a stereo LP release, and very successfully too.
The disc could hardly be packed more to the gills than it is: 79 minutes of Dohnányi. The restoration of the Remingtons has been a valuable feature of these releases.
Jonathan Woolf

Masterwork Index: Beethoven piano sonata 17