Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984)
Symphony No. 3 (1942) [23.40]
Symphony No. 4 (1947 rev 1957) [40.36]
Slovak Radio SO/Ladislav
rec Bratislava, May 1994/Oct 1993
This is Marco Polo's second Moyzes symphony disc. I
reviewed the first disc more than
a year ago.
Moyzes launches his Third Symphony with a Beethovenian minor key crunch and
as its five trim little movements unfold it comes as no surprise to read
that it is derived from his 1933 wind quintet - indeed eminent roles for
the wind survive the translation to full orchestra. The music exudes a wan
charm with hints of Parisian impressionism.
The Fourth Symphony (there are twelve in all) has a grim gravitas and is
generally a much more effective work than its sallow predecessor. The notes
speculate about links with music for radio plays on Herod and Herodias and
another on Ludovít Stúr a leading 19th century Slovak nationalist
as well as references to the ancient castle at Devin. I am not sure how helpful
it is to know this. In any event this is a big work with, as the notes suggest,
a Sibelian caste to the melodies though without Sibelius's outright mastery.
Smetana's historic symphonic poems might also be a forebear though the music
is not at all nineteenth century in 'feel'. There is a long and quite magical
oboe-borne elegy in the second movement. Mahler is mentioned in the notes.
I hear hardly any Mahler in the music except in the isolated ländler
at 3.40 (track 8). The finale strikes me as being at a lower level of inspiration
seeming ramshackle and lacking sustained atmosphere and symphonic inevitability.
Technically both recordings noticeably pull their punches when orchestral
climaxes are reached - try, for example, 0.47 in track 8 when the technician's
controls are retarded for the drum roll. A great pity and surely quite uncalled
Technical misjudgements aside, Moyzes is another character worth exploring
but Moyzes-pioneers should start with the first disc.
Does anyone know whether the conductor recorded all 12 Moyzes symphonies
before his death in 1999?