Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
This disc is delicious. Ernst von Dohnányi was one of the few 20th century composers with a genuine sense of musical humor. Tante Simona is a one-act Opera Buffa, and its overture is witty, charming, and full of fun. The American Rhapsody is Dohnányi’s gift to his adopted country, and the best way to think about it is to imagine what would have happened had Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies been based on American folk tunes. I won’t say which ones you’ll find here, but trust me when I insist that you’ll recognize at least some of them. It’s a complete mystery why this fun piece doesn’t get programmed more often. The Suite F-sharp minor has been recorded relatively frequently, never badly. The work enjoys symphonic dimensions, is gorgeously scored, and the variation finale is (at times) hilarious.
Leó Weiner was, like Dohnányi, a relatively conservative voice in modern Hungarian music. He died in exactly the same year as his compatriot (1960). The Serenade in F minor is an early work (1906), perhaps a touch long for its material, but full of good tunes that fall easily on the ear. I can’t imagine anyone not warming to it.
These performances are generally excellent. Roberto Paternostro clearly enjoys the music, and makes sure that we do too. I could imagine perhaps a touch more percussion in the “Spanish” variation in the suite’s finale, but that’s quibbling. Neither the conducting nor the playing leave anything to be desired. Paternostro has made a handful of Dohnányi recordings for Capriccio, quite successfully. You can collect the entire series with confidence.
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