This is unambiguously the work of a nature ecstatic.
If you already count Bax's nature canvasses among your favourite works
then you will be losing out if you do not get this excellent disc. The
music is discursively rhapsodic, sunny, bold, soused in melody and eloquent
with the voices of nature. Bax's Spring Fire, Tintagel,
Garden of Fand or Third or Fourth Symphony would be reasonable
parallels but there are other tributaries flowing through Marx's pen.
These include Debussy, Delius and Korngold; not that this music is particularly
dramatic. Marx has a large number of songs to his credit - some with
orchestral accompaniment. His natural proclivity for lyricism is echoed
into his starry and Klimt-like orchestral writing. The violins are prominent
throughout - leading and luxuriating. Some may hear echoes of ripe Hollywood
film music as well as Griffes' White Peacock and Howard Hanson's
Second Symphony and early tone poems (Lux Aeterna and Nymph
and Satyr) - listen to tr.2. 4.12. The harp and orchestral piano
provide a glimmering counterpoint. A Daphnis-like splendour
and opulence is the order of the day. This is a warm Mediterranean talent.
Across the other side of Europe in the Baltic state of Latvia, Adolfs
Skulte was, within five years of this piece, writing his early symphonies
all of which have a similarly iridescent and saturated lyricism.
These three pieces were conceived as a coherent triptych
but because of their benign complexity Marx only expected to hear the
trilogy complete in his mind - rather like Havergal Brian and his Gothic
Symphony. Unlike Brian, Marx never got to hear this work in a single
concert. The complexity of each 'panel' also resulted in conductors
making cuts. These have been opened out in this recording.
The scene-setting notes are by Berkant Haydin and Martin
Rucker. They are invaluable. English language information about Marx
is not that easily accessible outside Grove. I should correct myself
in one respect. Berkant, whose generosity in introducing me to so much
of Marx's music leaves me always in his debt, has produced an outstandingly
thorough, clean and very useable website on Marx. This is at www.joseph-marx.org
and is well worth visiting for its information and numerous sound samples.
How I wish that ASV, Mr Sloane and the Bochum orchestra
had been able to line up some sessions to record the even larger Ein
Herbstsymphonie next. Instead we will have some of the lighter orchestral
works. We will have to wait for the symphony and for the delightfully
Respighian Castelli Romani (1929-30, for piano and orchestra)
and Verklärtes Jahr (1930-32) the song cycle for voice and
orchestra. Be ready to snap them up when they appear.
An impressionistic South German voice soaked in the
quintessence of lyrical expression.
This is already my record of the month and will be
on my list of recordings of the year. A major discovery and a harbinger
of later releases which, if up to this strength, will change the shape
of the catalogue for ever. My guess is that certain conductors will
be looking with envious eyes at this grand score. Now how about having
Ein Herbstsymphonie at the Proms in 2004?