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Shortly after his first successes as a concert pianist, Dohnányi brought out his First Quartet in 1899. It is a mature work, acknowledging the influence of Brahms whilst also adopting writing that hints strongly at Dohnányi’s own Hungarian origins. It ranges widely and expressively, including both hymnal and folk elements in a richly rewarding way. The Third Quartet of 1926 is more harmonically questing and structurally sophisticated, and filled with vibrant melodies. Of the Aviv Quartet’s previous Naxos recording (8570965 / Schulhoff) MusicWeb International wrote: ‘they sound simply fantastic… The playing is electric; no position is a weak link’.
Dohnányi’s quartets move from late Romanticism to music tinged with a touch of expressionism via Zemlinsky. The Aviv String Quartet has been widely praised internationally in music of a similar vintage – for instance Schulhoff’s chamber music.
Erno Dohnanyi: String Quartet No. 3 in A minor, Op. 33
I. Allegro agitato e appassionato
II. Andante religioso con variazioni
III. Vivace giocoso
Erno Dohnanyi: String Quartet No. 1 in A major, Op. 7
II. Allegretto grazioso
III. Molto adagio con espressione
IV. Finale: Vivace
“This is writing that conveys not very much but does so with civility. The youngish players, decently recorded in a Toronto church, supply warmth and a certain generalised cut and thrust”
“their phrasing is attractive, and they generally make a reasonable, if not compelling case for these works.”