℗ 2013 Everest Records
© 2013 Countdown Media GmbH
On February 5, 1960, Ernst von Dohnanyi, one of the great composers and piano virtuosi of the twentieth century, was busily engaged in the New York studios of Everest Records, making recordings of music by Beethoven. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a heart attack, followed by an attack of influenza. Four days later he was dead. Thus, the music he recorded for Everest represents the very last performances by this remarkable artist. At eighty-two, an age when most musicians have long since retired, Dohnanyi, as these recordings will attest, still possessed a commanding technique, an enormous tone and an authoritative interpretive style.
The music which Dohnanyi recorded here offers a representative cross-section of his art as composer and pianist. Ruralia Hungarica, dating from 1924, is a suite of seven pieces for piano, based on authentic Hungarian folk material. Later, Dohnanyi arranged five of these pieces for orchestra and three for violin and piano. The Three Pieces, Op. 23, were written about ten years earlier. The Etudes de Concert, Op. 28, were composed in 1916. There are six in all, the three recorded here constituting Book 2. Of these, No.6, the Capriccio in F Minor, is the most popular of all Dohnanyi’s works for the piano. The Rhapsody in F sharp Minor is the second of four Rhapsodies, Op. 11. The composer said that he wrote them with the movements of a sonata in mind, and frequently performed them consecutively. Concluding this program is Dohnanyi’s brilliant pianistic transcription of the Treasure Waltz from the operetta The Gypsy Baron by the “Waltz King,” Johann Strauss, the Younger.