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Erno Dohnányi: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2 / Gottlieb Wallisch, piano; Enso Quartet

Album Summary

>Dohnányi, Ernst von : Piano Quintet no 1 in C minor, Op. 1
>Dohnányi, Ernst von : Piano Quintet no 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26
Performer Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Few composers have achieved greater success with their first published composition than Erno Dohnanyi with his Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 1. Written in 1895 and praised highly by Brahms, who is believed to have organized a Viennese performance shortly afterwards, it heralded the emergence of a major new talent. The harmonic ambiguity of the 1914 Piano Quintet in E flat minor points to the composer’s awareness of ongoing developments in European music. Still underestimated, it ranks among the most important works of Dohnanyi’s ‘middle period’.

BBC Music Magazine, February 2015
[No. 1] is an astonishingly assured work, with strongly defined thematic ideas and a masterly handling of the chamber music medium that stands very much in the great Austro-German Romantic tradition...Wallisch and the Enso Quartet deliver a highly charged account.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
The First Quintet is one of the gems of the literature and probably the best thing Erno Dohnanyi ever wrote. It's his Opus 1, and Brahms liked it so much that he played in the 1895 premiere in Vienna. Yes, it is rather Brahmsian. The Second Quintet (1914) is also a fine piece. I suppose it is fair to say that Naxos has again given us a competitive recording at a reasonable price. Yes, there is 76 minutes of music on the Hyperion. Most other quintet recordings are around 55 minutes, like the Naxos.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (05/28/2007-05/29/2007).


Opus 1!
The Piano Quintet in C minor is an effective piece of writing. It’s a procession of strong melodic and rhythmic ideas deftly manipulated. It’s as remarkable an Opus 1 as any composer could strive for. Certainly Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms lurk in the wings. No matter, Dohnanyi’s vision transcends rote emulation within its traditional 4 movement layout. One can readily observe the emergence of a major talent contained within its pages. Opus 26 is in another realm. The maturity and confidence level of writing has gained significantly. The tried and true 4 movement template has given way to 3 movements more ambitious in scope. Melodic formation, harmonic movement and color are highly sophisticated and reflect far less incursion of earlier masters. Dohnanyi has found his voice. It’s good to have both works available on a single disc. If only the performances were better. Flow and precision are not always what they should be. The piano is acceptable but the sound of the quartet tends to be strident and ill defined in tutti passages. In general the color palette is somewhat monochromatic. There are moments where the ensemble loses concentration, in one instance midway through the last movement of Opus 26, nearly unraveling. The sound pickup, dry and two dimensional, is adequate. These wonderful works deserve better.
Submitted on 01/16/15 by Allen Cohen 
Lovely new chamber music discovery!
This performance of Erno Dohnanyi’s first and second piano quintets, performed by the excellent Enso Quartet with pianist Gottlieb Wallisch making up the fifth member of the quintet. Mr. Dohnanyi, whom I was previously unfamiliar with, was a contemporary of Bartok and also a fine pianist (according to the informative liner notes), but was more strongly influenced by the German school of composition. The liner notes also give some of his history living in Austria, Hungary, and finally the United States, along with details of the political climate that influenced his career and choice of location to make his home in.

The first Piano Quintet has definite Brahmsian characteristics, the four movement work featuring a very Brahms-like interplay between the piano and the strings particularly in the second movement. The music is lovely and evocative, and most certainly requires the best of each musician in the quintet – it would be a treat to be able to hear this performed live. Piano Quintet No. 2, composed 19 years later in 1914, is darker and more somber as a whole, but rather feelingly energetic in sections in the second movement, giving way to a slow and somber melody from the cello to start the third and final movement. There is a clear emotional dialog between the instruments in both quintets, but particularly in the second one. Again, this is music quite suitable for the chamber music concert venue, and it would be a welcome addition to any chamber music performance currently featuring works of Brahms or Mendelssohn – there is definitely something of value here.

I will definitely have to investigate other works by this composer, particularly if they are performed by musicians as talented as those heard on this CD. In any event, this recording is a welcome addition to my collection and will continue to spend quite a bit of time in my CD player. Recommended.

Submitted on 01/22/15 by KlingonOpera 
Quintets show composer's development
Erno Dohnanyi wrote his first piano quintet in 1895, while he was still very much under the influence of Brahms. Published as his Opus 1, Dohnanyi's first piano quintet is a solid enough composition, especially for a young man of 22. Dohnanyi's natural voice wasn't that far removed from that of his idol, so the music flows in a natural and unforced fashion. If you love Brahms, there's much to like in this quintet.

By 1914, Dohnanyi had begun to establish his own style. His second piano quintet draws more on Hungarian musical traditions, especially with its modal tonalities in the first movement. The final movement's fugue is a delight; inventive and lively without sounding learned at all.

The Enso String Quartet and pianist Gottlieb Wallisch perform well together, creating a seamless ensemble. The energy they bring to this music brings out its full potential, I think, and makes this release an enjoyable listening experience.

Are these the best piano quintets ever written? No. But as played by Wallisch and the Enso String Quartet, they sound pretty darned good.
Submitted on 03/26/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Ernst von Dohnányi (Composer) (1877 - 1960) : Piano Quintet no 1 in C minor, Op. 1
  • Performer: Gottlieb Wallisch (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Enso Quartet
  • Notes: Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (05/28/2007-05/29/2007)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 06/05/1895

>Ernst von Dohnányi (Composer) (1877 - 1960) : Piano Quintet no 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26
  • Performer: Gottlieb Wallisch (Piano)
  • Notes: Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (05/28/2007-05/29/2007)
  • Running Time: 24 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1914