László LAJTHA (1892-1963)
Symphony No. 8 (1959) [38.29]
Symphony No. 9 (1961) [26.17]
rec Pécs, Hungary, Oct 1996
MARCO POLO 8.223673
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I do not immediately associate Hungary with the 20th century symphony however
Lajtha wrote an 'immortal nine' and Marco Polo have recorded all of them.
The Eighth is extremely colourful and astoundingly well recorded. This is
just as well as Lajtha writes colourful music lucidly orchestrated and with
a spirit of fancy and imagination. The textures are iridescent and tuneful.
More often than not he presses forward his ideas using chamber techniques
with much work for the orchestra's principals. Stylistically he is more Gallic
than ethnically middle-European (although this influence does colour the
score in the violent et tourmenté finale) with flashes of Rimskian
light. There is no (or little) trace of Shostakovich but surprisingly, I
thought more than twice about Vaughan Williams. In the second movement at
5.39 he spins a lovely tragic melody high in the pp violins and in
the finale at 1.53 and later (6.32) in the same movement a capriciously
voluptuous violin solo. The third movement is marked Très agitée
et toujours angoissé and for this Lajtha darkens the previously
light-filled landscape making it dank, and ghoulish. There is still much
work for solos including oboe, flute and harp.
The three movement Ninth continues the dark pilgrimage with tragedy weighing
down its wings intensified by sardonic humour. The central lento
provides some respite but the blooming solo lines avoid glaring colours
veering instead towards purple and auburn. Generally this symphony employs
tonality but there are moments when Lajtha dallies with dissonance.
In no way could either symphony be described as hard going.
I recommend this music highly and am more than curious about the earlier
six volumes on this label..
On this evidence the recording engineers and acoustic architects of the world
should be flying to Pécs to use and study this fine concert hall.
The sound of this recording is magnificent.