Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Alexander MOYZES
Symphony No. 3 (1942) [23.40]
Symphony No. 4 (1947 rev 1957) [40.36]
Slovak Radio SO/Ladislav Slovák
rec Bratislava, May 1994/Oct 1993
MARCO POLO 8.225089 [64.16]
  Amazon UK

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 for.

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?

Rob Barnett

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