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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Serenade for String Trio is Dohnányi’s most popular chamber work, with four of its five movements crisply compact and undemanding, but with a Variation movement, Andante con moto, fourth in the sequence, which on a more ambitious scale delves deeper, a point movingly brought out here in playing of hushed intensity. The Sextet is even more distinctive, with a strong first movement prominently featuring the horn, and a slow movement which builds up powerfully, before the two lighter movements which follow. The delicately pointed Scherzo leads to an exuberant finale, with jagged cross-rhythms, comic false entries and deliciously surreal waltz-references. It is played here breathtakingly fast, with the waltz parodies wittily highlighted, and the fun of the final ‘wrong-key’ cadence nicely pointed under the direction of the cellist, Frank Sumner Dodge. Brilliant, full bodied sound to match.

American Record Guide, June 2005

“The Sextet is a joy to hear from beginning to end; an exciting, perfectly balanced, extremely engaging, kaleidoscopic adventure in music. All the playing is remarkable.”

Michael Liebowitz, June 2003

"Ernö Dohnányi's music slowly has been getting the discographic attention it deserves, and these exemplary readings of his marvelous Serenade for String Trio and Sextet happily join company with some other fine versions...the warmly phrased and crisp playing by the members of Spectrum Concerts Berlin will certainly fuel competition in a decidedly uncrowded field. Those who have yet to experience these miniature masterpieces are in for a treat. Both works admittedly recall Brahms in sonority and structure, but they stand on their own as wholly original works with myriad and often clever twists of character, from witty to sinister. For instance, note how Dohnanyi conveys the entire sentiment of the Serenade in the neatly concise first movement, and how its fragmented march pops up momentarily at the end of the finale. The brilliantly conceived inner movements exhibit dramatic breadth in the tender Romance, the motoric Scherzo, and the beguiling variations of the Andante, whose veiled theme unfolds rather discretely. The musicians here are nothing less than committed...The broad, muscular music of the Sextet also pays a debt to Brahms--it almost sounds like the Horn Trio and Piano Quintet in F minor mixed together and then sprinkled with more humor and a dash of additional verve. The first movement of the Sextet is almost symphonic in length and grandeur, propelled by sweeping themes and finishing with a knockout climax. Dohnanyi finally liberates himself from Brahms and moves into 20th-century Vienna in the high-spirited finale, filled with off-kilter rhythmic vitality and irreverent little waltzes. Special mention should go to the excellent horn playing of Ron Schaaper, whose sensitive vibrato and immense glowing sound in the outer movements are glorious to hear.

Scott Morrison, June 2003

"A lovely time is had by all...The musicians here were all unknown to me except for the excellent French-American pianist, Daniel Blumenthal; his colleagues are fully his equals. These are invigorating performances of wonderful music. You can't go wrong with this issue...Strongly recommended."

David Denton
The Strad

"Spectrum Concerts immaculate accounts of some of the most sublimely beautiful music of the era."

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