Marx's songs are a southern efflorescence; dazzling, deliquescent and decidedly
romantic. The settings are of Dehmel, Hartleben, Hesse, Rilke, Zweig, Novalis
and Eichendorff among many others.
The style is pretty distinctive and perhaps a bit unvarying. The main elements
are an unfailingly impressionistic approach to piano writing and a natural
feel for the rise, fall and spring of the sung word. The songs of Cyril Scott
and John Ireland are a presence in these pages.
Nocturne is a Spanish serenade mixing Granados (of Goyescas) and Cyril
Scott. Selige Nacht has the feeling of a warm serenade.
Marienlied is concentrated glory and Bitte, an Austrian Salley
Gardens. Dinah Bryant's voice is warmly rounded though slightly boomy
in Und Gesten (a lovely song). The bell-like Hochsommernacht
is a Delian melt-down: a treasurable bejewelled miniature tone-poem of high
drama which, in its flight, seems to trace a falling and a rebirth. Speaking
of tone-poems we should not overlook the great-hearted arching romance of
the 8:36 Barkarole, setting von Schack or the similar spirited Im
Maien - also an epic scena at 6:09. This contrasts with the delicate
pictorialism of Windräder with its Grecian piano accompaniment
There is a Housman-like resignation in Nachtgebet and the beautifully
floated word 'Augen' marks out Ms Bryant's artistry. The music and the words
are a counterpart for the Grecian Lad 'as I hear tell'. Blumenthal has a
magical touch. Listen to him in the closing bars of the song. More vigorous
moods sweep through Und gesten
and Waldseligkeit (the
hearty Warlock), Die Elfe (jolly) and Ein Drängen (stormy).
The texts are in German with English translations. There are English, French
and German notes by Ernest Huffman and Daniel Blumenthal. This project appears
to be Blumenthal's and his notes recount his discovery of Marx through Marx
pupil, Josef Blatt and his gradual exploration of the lieder through archival
recordings. It would seem natural then for Blumenthal to tackle the Castelli
Romani, Marx's dizzyingly colourful work for piano and orchestra.
The printing on the booklet and insert looks rather tired but there are no
complaints about these fine songs, well sung and played as they are. Do not
forget Marie-Paule Milone and Denis Pascal in the 28 songs (plus 7 piano
solo pieces and the complete works for cello and piano) on a 2CD set
(72:34+79:10) - Disques Fy et du Solstice SOCD 104/5. The Solstice set comes
with remarkably detailed and enjoyable notes by the redoubtable Michel Fleury.
Recommended to lieder fanciers and those who would like to discover the softer
Italianate side of Austrian romanticism: soft warm breezes from the South!