Ernst von Dohnányi: The Veil of Pierrette - Ariane Matiakh. © 2020 Capriccio Records

CD Spotlight

Thoroughly Enjoyable

Dohnányi's 'The Veil of Pierrette',
recommended by GEOFF PEARCE

'The rapid changes of mood and atmosphere are well done, and the playing of all concerned is exemplary.'


This disc of Ernst von Dohnányi's dance pantomime The Veil of Pierrette is most welcome as there is a general lack of recordings of this composer's music. This work was first performed in 1910 and is based on a pantomime play by Viennese writer and dramatist Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), dealing with a tragic love triangle. The plot is well explained in the interesting booklet notes. After its first performance, the work was met with varying success, but the 'Wedding Waltz' was widely performed in many arrangements and was a popular choice for radio broadcasts.

The work consists of three acts, with a prelude and six scenes in Act I, two scenes in Act II (opening with the seventeen-minute Wedding Waltz) and three scenes in Act III.

Listen — Dohnányi: Allegro moderato (The Veil of Pierrette Act III Scene 2)
(track 10, 0:44-1:34) © 2020 Capriccio Records :

The lengths of the scenes vary considerably, ranging from 41 seconds for the final Act III Scene 3, to nearly eighteen minutes for Act I Scene 6 and Act II Scene 1. The musical style is late Romantic and thoroughly enjoyable, going through a whole range of moods, as one might expect in a tale of this nature. Some movements (such as Act I Scene 2) are positively coquettish, some grand, some tender and some very tragic or conflicted.

Listen — Dohnányi: Largamente (The Veil of Pierrette Act I Scene 6)
(track 6, 0:00-0:43) © 2020 Capriccio Records :

The opening Prelude and Scene 1 are sombre at the opening, and one senses that this will be a tragic work. The playing by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ariane Matiakh is everything you could wish for.

Listen — Dohnányi: Act I Prelude (The Veil of Pierrette)
(track 1, 0:02-0:45) © 2020 Capriccio Records :

The rapid changes of mood and atmosphere are well done, and the playing of all concerned is exemplary. I am particularly impressed with the various woodwind solos, and the precision and sumptuous sound of the strings is a delight to hear. When one hears the brass (as they are used somewhat sparingly), they are fantastic and play with precision and sonority and with some lovely biting menace when required. I am most impressed with this orchestra and its overall sound. The Wedding Waltz is in the vein of Richard Strauss's Waltz scene from Der Rosenkavalier with its glorious overblown Romantic splendour.

Listen — Dohnányi: Wedding Waltz (The Veil of Pierrette)
(track 7, 0:00-0:48) © 2020 Capriccio Records :

I am not going to deliver a track by track account of this work and there is not much for me to say except that this is a disc that will delight listeners. I am so pleased I did not pass it up, and it makes me wonder just how many undiscovered gems there are out there. I can't help wondering about the lack of vision many of our concert programmers have, as there is a real overkill for many works or composers, great as they are, yet a total avoidance of others. I would love to see this work staged, even though, generally, I am not that interested in dance. Do get this disc, unless you do not like late Romantic music.

Copyright © 19 April 2020 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia






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