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Reviews: Dohnanyi: Variations on a Nursery Song etc. - Dohnanyi, Starker

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Reviews: 4

Site review by Geohominid June 18, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:
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Review by JJ October 18, 2008 (4 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Here is tribute disc in which the composer/pianist Erno Dohnanyi plays his own works directed by Sir Adrian Boult with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Walter Süsskind with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The program of this Super Audio CD only in stereo includes the Variations on a Child’s Song Op.25 dating from 1914, the Konzertstück for Cello and Orchestra Op.12 from 1904-05 (with Janos Starker), and the Concerto for Piano N°2 Op.42 from 1946. As Pierre-Emile Barbier states in the accompanying notes for the present recording: “Even today, in that his works are part of the rhetoric of the last generation of romantics rather than works that lead the way to those of the 20th century, it is often difficult to conceive that Dohnanyi was older than, and the fellow student and friend of the likes of Kodaly and Bartok. His works remained under the influence of Brahms, then Richard Strauss, without any apparent marks of distancing.” Thanks to DSD remastering, this sound recording dating from 1956 here reaches undreamed of dimensions. A veritable resurrection, it restores depth, tones and clarity. Insofar as the interpretation, we are in the presence of absolute classics. The subtlety of Dohnanyi’s touch in the Variations and the fervor of Starker in the Konzetstück are moments of pure magic. Once again, it is worth recalling that DSD has attained qualities that PCM on the CD cannot. A great moment…

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Review by canonical March 20, 2009 (8 of 13 found this review helpful)
Revised 22 March 2009:

Just to clarify: The consensus from the discussion here on, and from the review of this SACD on Amazon by Charles Rileigh is that (irrespective of whether copyright has expired on this recording or otherwise):

1. Praga Digitals ... the company that has put this EMI material onto a SACD ... appears to have done so without the approval of EMI, and without access to the EMI master analogue tapes.

2. The Nursery Variations and Cello Concerto are most likely ripped from the EMI compact discs; not from the analogue masters. If so, there can be no gain in placing the item onto SACD.

3. The Piano Concerto #2 appears to have been copied from a vinyl disc (although a very quiet one), and the sound is substandard.

In plain words, don't be fooled: the packet might say 'SACD', but all you are getting is a ripped CD. Caveat emptor.

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Review by AmirKessner April 9, 2009 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with canonical's review. Unlike Praga's modern issues, the sound here is pretty dated, in mediocre-to-poor transfers.

The Variations on a Nursery Song (22'59") and the Konzertstuck for Cello (22'20") were recorded in 1956 and are in stereo. The recording date of the Piano Concerto No. 2 (27'22") is unspecified, and sounds mono-ish, with background noises like in 78s or LPs.

The performances with piano are "authentic" - the composer plays in both. However, I greatly prefer the Variations with Earl Wild and the composer's son, Christoph von Dohnanyi, conducting the New Philharmonia on Chesky CD13: better pianism, better conducting and definitely better sound (RBCD only).

The Konzertstuck is very nicely played by Starker and Susskind conducting the Philharmonia, though the orchestra sounds pretty shrill.

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