Archive for May, 2017

Dohnányi, Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 1

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Ernő Dohnányi [Ernst von Dohnanyi], 1877-1960

Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 1, 1895

Ernő DohnányiErnő Dohnányi is apt to be the greatest composer you have never heard. He is celebrated as the “greatest” Hungarian “musician” after Franz Liszt, great because his musicianship encompassed his diversity of profound gifts as a epic concert pianist, tireless conductor, superb composer, educator, administrator and ambassador that essentially encapsulated the entirely of Hungarian classical music culture for decades leading up to WWII. Likely owing to his international career and a bit of marketing, he often went by the more German version of his name, Ernst von Dohnanyi without the odd punctuation.

Dohnányi wrote nearly a dozen chamber music masterworks that should be more frequently played. His two most famous works are a Serenade for string trio and this extraordinary piano quintet, the first of two. (more…)

Shostakovich, 5 Pieces for 2 Violins

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975

5 Pieces for 2 Violins (arrangement)

Dmitri ShostakovichShostakovich is frankly a 20th century Beethoven. He wrote tons of symphonies, string quartets, film scores, piano music, operas and songs, and his music seems to speak so vividly to so many listeners. While much of his music is epic, intense, dark and rife with spiky modernisms, Shostakovich composed many beautiful, “classical” pieces full of lyricism, personality, fine craftsmanship and sheer musical delight. Among his incidental music, ballets and suites you will find many gems, the likes of which inspired Lev Atovmian, a student of Shostakovich, to arrange these five pieces for violin duo with piano accompaniment. As a very young man, Shostakovich had a job playing piano at the theatre for silent movies improvising a live soundtrack on the fly. These vignettes make a reel of compelling scenes, each one a little short story including a prelude, an elegy and three different dances, each more lively than the last.