Dohnanyi: Symphony 1 in D Minor, Op. 9
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Dohnanyi: Symphony No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 9
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Was it really necessary to dredge up this dreary specimen of pseudo- Brahmsian late Romanticism? Dohnányi had already written more worthwhile (if equally Brahmsian) music than this--like his Piano Quintet No. 1, op. 1--by the time he composed this symphony at age 23. Perhaps he was intimidated by the task of taking on an orchestra for the first time. At any rate, his themes are so unmemorable here that we wonder why the orchestra is going on about them so in the developments. It's like having a vigorous conversation about the weather. The performance sounds decent enough, if it matters. --Leslie Gerber
Top customer reviews
symphony that deserves to be listened and known.
Maestro Botstein has been always a great interpreter and rescuer in those big but neglected post-romantic works,
so there's no place for some silly reviews which consider there's no more music beyond Beethoven or Brahms.
Botstein places his cards squarely on the table in this rendition. He insists that 'this fantastic and compelling piece
of music has been unfairly neglected.' He supports his claim with a thrilling performance, magnificently recorded. The symphony
was composed in 1900, a time -- as now -- when the challenge of balancing the old with the new asked for new levels of artistic responsibility. Dohnanyi tended to side with tradition, though his harmonic style is fairly pan-European. The opening horn theme conjures the Bruckner's symphonic world, and the music soon flares to a heady climax before raindrop pizzicatos lower us to a
lyrical second set. The slow movement occasionally hints at hungarian music and the Scherzo seems vaguely reminiscent to
Dvorak. Then we have a very attractive 'Intermezzo' that calls on themes from previous movements and finally, a powerful Tema
e variazioni concludes the work "in modo maestoso".
Dohnanyi's penchant for rich colours and unexpected key relations invariably holds one's interest, though this is not a
Masterpiece, it's a very compelling work and this thrilling performance makes it as a high recommendation.
I am tempting to call this symphony a masterpiece, however flawed it may be. It is essentially the first Hungarian symphony in the matter of importance in Hungarian music, very much like the first symphonies of Elgar or Charles Ives (of Great Britain and the United States respectively). The work, with its Brucknerian beginning, has traceable influences of Brahms and Dvorak in expression while the orchestration is rather Wagnerian in sonority. Hungarian/Gypsy folk-tunes are of prevalence throughout the work, however, and this is highly an assured, communicative work. The first movement is heroic, powerful, and noble. The second movement is beautiful, peaceful, and haunting, with the virtuosic flute and harp phrasings that foreshadow one of Kodaly's Peacock Variations (Variation XIV). The Third movement evokes a rather Lisztian rhapsody which is ultimately powerful and energetic while the fourth movement is meditative and serene. The finale, to me however, is like no other in the genre and resumes the heroic and dramatic discourses of the first movement (but with an ingenious use of variations that Dohnanyi would be especially known for). This in particular is handled with aplomb and utmost commitment by Botstein and the London Philharmonic. Their performance is definitely in a demonstration class and a benchmark one in every way that counts. Telarc's sound and Botstein's essays are major pluses in this ear-awakening, ear-catching album. The aforementioned Chandos recording is a major challenge to this one, especially since it has a coupling (the tuneful yet arrestingly reflective American Rhapsody). And Bamert and the BBC Philharmonic have valid things to say of this remarkable symphony. So you may not regret adding these two very fine albums to your library. But for my money, the Botstein disc is more likely to win converts, however slightly.