The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: Vivid performances of a pair of Hungarian quartets
Musicians: Aviv Quartet
Composer: Dohnányi

Far too little of Ern? Dohnányi’s music makes it into concert programmes, and as so often it has been left to the record industry to fill the gaps in our musical knowledge. These two string quartets demonstrate that there’s far more to the composer than the Nursery Variations and the String Trio and that, with his symphonies and concertos, he was a master of the classic forms of the Austro–German tradition.

The Aviv Quartet is making a name for itself in forgotten corners of the repertoire, having previously impressed with a Naxos disc of Schulhoff’s quartets (reviewed in The Strad, July 2010). Here, in a resonant but clear recording, the players bring plenty of warmth to Dohnányi’s Brahmsian First Quartet of 1899 – there’s the sense that they are really inside the music and not merely rustling up a run-through for the microphones. The Third Quartet of 1926 – stylistically a long way from the contemporary explorations of Janá?ek or Bartók – reiterates Dohnányi’s skills as a musical craftsman within the bounds of a questing tonality, and again the Aviv players sound fully at home in the idiom. They bring out the charm in the melodious writing yet in the verve of the finale never lose the security of their collective tone.

Matthew Rye