can now hear much more of Rezniček
than just the Donna Diana
overture; not that there is anything
wrong with that overture nor, so I understand,
with the full opera which is still rarely
fact Rezniček was more a man of
the theatre with his most significant
operas being Donna Diana premiered
in Prague by the composer in 1894, Till
Eulenspiegel in Carlsruhe 1902,
Ritter Blaubart in Darmstadt
in 1920, Holofernes in Berlin
in 1923. Spiel Oder Ernst in
Dresden in 1930.
The First Symphony
is a might leviathan of an hour’s length.
It was written in 1902 and carries the
title The Tragic.
The Second is The
Ironic. It is full of playful allusions
to Strauss, to Beethoven and Brahms
and in the finale seems to look to the
Prokofiev of Kije and the Classical
Symphony - all purely coincidental.
With the Great War over Reznicek completed
a Third Symphony in d major In the
Old Style and then a Fourth in F
minor. His Fifth and last symphony was
the Dance Symphony of 1926. This
is a major work of forty minutes length.
The movement titles are: Polonaise;
Csardas; Ländler and
Tarantella; they do not tell
all. The Polonaise is fantastical
courtly piece of considerable grandeur.
It is warmly impressionistic rather
than Prussian-severe. The Csardas
begins with a solo violin and has
orchestral episodes of a mystery equivalent
to the more morose or spiritual moments
in any psychological score by Miklos
Rozsa. The Ländler is completely
unlike Reger or Schmidt; rather the
reference points are Ravel and Joseph
Marx but without Marx's intoxicatingly
profuse melos. The Tarantella finale
is explosive and colourful with tambourine
and other 'exotic' percussion; mind
you it can also roar like a Bruckner
climax as well. The world evoked is
equivalent to the expressionist films
of that era. One can see how this began
as a series of dance episodes but it
still has that disparate sense that
Rachmaninov manages to avoid in his
own Symphonic Dances of fourteen years
later. There are magical moments including
the singing chiming at 6:01 in the final
Tarantella but overall this works
as the analogue of film noir fantasy
rather than as a symphony.
Erich Kleiber performed
the Fifth Symphony in New York in 1931.
As usual the CPO notes
are gloriously encyclopaedic.
The performances seem
convincing and the recording is lively
caught in a grand acoustic.
are fascinating souvenirs of an era
and Rezniček's part in it but the
music is not intrinsically compelling.