The penultimate volume in Hyperion’s four-part survey of the complete solo piano music of Ernő Dohnányi focuses on music from the period when the composer’s pre-eminent position was being assured. The titles of the largest works here, Ruralia hungarica and the Variations on a Hungarian Folksong, mask in their nationalistic ostentation the skill of a true master of piano composition. Martin Roscoe inhabits the world of Dohnányi’s music like no other—appraisals of the earlier volumes attest to this—and this new recording is a joy.
Software formed in 1983 by German duo Peter Mergener and Michael Weisser, Software owes much to electronic pioneer Klaus Schulze. Software's music usually builds on sequencer patterns and simple melodies, creating a lighter version of The Schulze style. Their later work is woven into concept albums, yet the music rarely lives up to their poetic aspirations. Software's earlier recordings with Peter Mergener are generally more satisfying.
More ass-shaking artifacts from the early-'80s dawn of electro, hip-hop, and freestyle. This might be the least distinct disc in the set, but in such great company, that's hardly a put-down. Of all the volumes, number 3 hews closest to the strictures of the compilation's subtitle, "New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics, 1980-1985," though Heaven 17's "Let Me Go" came out of England and was in no sense underground.
This 53-CD set is more than the sum of its parts. While not all the performances and recordings are top-notch, the overall quality is very high and as a historical overview of a label known for its sonic as well as musical merits, it's full of treasures. The Mercury sound at its best is vivid and still sounds remarkable and many of these recordings - such as the marches, show tunes and orchestral showpieces conducted by Frederic Fennell - demonstrate this amply. But it's not all lollipops by any means.