Ernst von Dohnányi - Leó Weiner - Roberto Paternostro. © 2021 Capriccio

CD Spotlight

Music of Wit and Charm

Works by Ernst von Dohnányi and Leó Weiner, heard by GEOFF PEARCE

'... fine and unfamiliar music, played to perfection by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Roberto Paternostro.'


I always enjoy the music of Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960) and Leó Weiner (1885-1960) so was pleased to come across this disc.

The album opens with the overture by Dohnányi entitled Tante Simona which was composed in 1911-1912 and which opens a one-act opera buffa. The overture lasts around five minutes and is in Dohnányi's romantic style. It is full of colourful tunes and contrasts, and is an enjoyable opening to this disc with its light-hearted and jaunty themes.

Listen — Dohnányi: Overture (Tante Simona)
(track 1, 2:29-3:14) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The next work is the Suite in F sharp minor, written in 1909. It was originally going to be entitled The Romantic Suite but he later changed his mind. It is in four movements. The first movement is a theme and six variations - here separated as tracks. I am reminded of Brahms and Dvořák with the broad opening melody and alternating orchestration between wind and strings.

Listen — Dohnányi: Andante con variazioni (Suite in F sharp minor)
(track 2, 0:01-0:32) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

Dohnányi was fond of using the variation form and the six variations that follow are contrasting and there is some brilliant writing, especially for wind soloists - clarinet and flute - in the first one. The second is delightfully stormy and, overall, the composer shows what a master of orchestration he is.

Listen — Dohnányi: Variation V - Vivace (Suite in F sharp minor)
(track 7, 0:22-0:44) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The second movement is a delightfully playful scherzo, rather reminiscent of the Scherzo in Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, yet again I also feel there is influence of Dvořák here too.

The third movement is a delicate dance-like Romanza, and again there are some beautiful wind solos and a lovely oboe solo that is extended by the cello. This is a piece with contrast and there are some exotic sections that have some quite 'oriental' flavours.

The final movement is unashamedly romantic in nature, and full of life and contrast and good humour, it is rhapsodic and more extended than the other movements. I find this movement very refreshing and optimistic.

Listen — Dohnányi: Rondo (Suite in F sharp minor)
(track 11, 4:33-5:26) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The next work, the American Rhapsody, Op 47 was finished in 1953. It was written to commemorate the 150th year of the founding of Ohio State University. It is a beautiful, expansive work and reminds me in places of some of Dvořák's American compositions. Dohnányi draws on various thematic influences, including spirituals, a song from Pete Seeger's band, 'Turkey in the Straw' and also the University's Alma Mater song - but this was later omitted. This is most enjoyable music.

Listen — Dohnányi: Rondo (Suite in F sharp minor)
(track 12, 10:20-11:19) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The final work on this disc is Leó Weiner's Serenade in F minor for small orchestra, Op 3, from 1906. It is in four movements and draws on the same Austro/Hungarian tradition as his contemporary. The first movement is an Allegretto and is dancelike and bright with a more serene second subject, soon giving way to exuberance.

The second movement is a rhythmic scherzo and trio, and is colourful and syncopated in the scherzo and rather calmer and lyrical in the trio. I could imagine this as being a movement to a symphony. This is music of wit and charm.

Listen — Leó Weiner: Lebhaft, sehr rhythmisch (Serenade in F minor)
(track 14, 2:16-3:10) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The third movement starts with a slow dream-like clarinet solo, and there are three variations to follow, featuring the bassoon, then oboe and finally flute before the opening clarinet theme returns. I am reminded a little of Kodály here.

Listen — Leó Weiner: Rubato - Andantino - Allegretto (Serenade in F minor)
(track 15, 2:59-3:58) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

The final fast movement is a rhythmic dance movement and again features some florid woodwind and brass writing. This is music of great charm and good humour, like much of the music on this disc.

Listen — Leó Weiner: Allegro molto (Serenade in F minor)
(track 16, 4:14-5:09) ℗ 2021 Capriccio :

This disc features some fine and unfamiliar music, played to perfection by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Roberto Paternostro. The music is refreshing, I love both of these composers dearly, and it is good to see orchestras and recording companies presenting music that is not widely known, so it is able to gain a wider audience.

Copyright © 12 September 2021 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia









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