Classical Album of the Week: Dohnanyi with the Takacs Quartet and Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin

Dec 2, 2019

December 2, 2019. Erno Dohnanyi was only 17 when he wrote his Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor, his opus 1. Johannes Brahms, who composed one of the great piano quintets, was so impressed by the work that he said, “I couldn’t have written it better myself.”

Dohnanyi’s quintets are the backbone of this new CD by the Takacs Quartet, teaming up with pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin.

Ernst von Dohnanyi in 1902.
Credit Reginald Fellows Wilson/Wikipedia Commons

And to paraphrase Brahms, it might be said that no quartet other than the Takacs could play it as well. Gramophone magazine said, “The Takacs have the ability to make you believe there’s no other possible way the music should go.”

Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, who plays both of Dohnanyi’s piano quintets on this album, is known worldwide for the originality and technical brilliance of his performances.

Dohnányi was slightly older than his fellow Hungarians Bartók and Kodaly and had a great influence on his homeland’s musical life. Dohnanyi was considered the greatest Hungarian pianist since Liszt. He had a brilliant concert career and was the first major pianist with an international reputation to regularly feature chamber music in his concerts.

The Takacs Quartet rounds out the album with the String Quartet No.2 in D flat Major. It was written after Dohnanyi accepted a professorship at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, at the invitation of Brahms’ long-time collaborator Joseph Joachim.