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Joseph MARX (1882-1964)
Orchestral Songs and Choral Works
Herbstchor an Pan (1911) [18:45]
Barkarole (1909) [7:01]
Zigeuner (1911) [2:40]
Der bescheidene Schäfer (1910) [2:10]
Selige Nacht (1912) [2:28]
Sommerlied (1909) [2:01]
Marienlied (1909) [2:36]
Maienblüten (1909) [1:57]
Waldseligkeit (1911) [1:12]
Und gestern hat er mich Rosen gebracht (1909) [2:35]
Piemontesisches Volkslied (1911) [2:08]
Ständchen (1911) [2:00]
Hat dich die liebe berurht (1908) [2:37]
Morgengesang (1910) [8:27]
Berghymne (1911) [2:20]
Ein Neujahrshymnus (1914) [9:28]
Christine Brewer (soprano)
Elizabeth Roberts (soprano); Vernon Kirk (tenor); Graham Titus (bass) (Herbstchor); Susan Monks (cello) (Waldseligkeit)
Trinity Boys Choir; Apollo Voices; BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jiří Bělohlávek
rec. 15-16 May 2008, Maida Vale Studios, London (songs); 29 June 2008, Watford Colosseum (choral). DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10505 [71:33]


Experience Classicsonline

Chandos have an unshakable grip on the big choral-orchestral sound. It’s one of the company’s signatures. This is just as well given that Marx’s writing has a lavish extravagance of expression. This is very much for those who love their Delius, Korngold, Zemlinsky and Mahler who will find it irresistible. It has an exuberance and whooping confidence that carries all before it.

On this disc there are twelve songs for soprano and orchestra and four pieces for chorus and orchestra. The longest of the latter is the pantheistic Herbstchor an Pan. It sets a poem of pagan exaltation in summer’s blazing delights. This is music of ecstatic exuberance and speaks of the South, of Italy and of the Mediterranean. Neither the performance nor the recording is in any way half-hearted. The music passingly recalls Mahler 3 (in the boy’s choir) and Delius in the invocatory shout of joy of his A Mass of Life. It is also redolent of Song of the High Hills and the Requiem. Full of thoughtful orchestral touches it is constantly engaging. Plunging and rearing exultation in dazzling light contrasts with a sense of sunlit satiation. The fine detail includes a sturdy yet slender little march – rather like the determined confident counterpart in Brian’s Gothic – harp filigree and a solo violin that enters with a shiver and a shimmering. In Christine Brewer Chandos chose well – her voice is heavy with meaning, potent in nuance and expression, vivacious and vibrant, dynamically varied. She covers the extremes demanded by Marx from the lilting easy-going line of Ständchen to the lighter hand evident in Zigeuner and Der bescheidene Schäfer – the latter a step away from Lehár despite its avian cantilena. Barkarole rises from lapping Baxian figuration to a crowning lyrical triumph. The Morgengesang mobilises a web of solo instrumental voices but rises to a sensational climax. Berghymne is also very successful and makes intelligent use of the solo piano in a way that at least superficially recalls the émigré film scores of Korngold and Waxman. Ein Neujahrshymnus is regally sumptuous with the choir producing a seething aureate blaze of sound. Wonderful stuff!

The notes are by Berkant Haydin who is also responsible for the richly detailed Marx website. He is the lead agency in the Marx revival. Stefan Esser and Berkant Haydin arranged the Berghymne and Neujahrshymnus for full orchestra from originals for chorus and piano and chorus and organ. The resulting rich orchestration emerges from intense study of Marx’s full scores. Their orchestrations distinctly reflect new Marxian harmonies and treatments. Berkant assures me that Neujahrshymnus is somewhat reminiscent of Reger's influence on the young Marx. 

The sung words in the original language and English translation are usual printed side by side in the booklet.

Such is the success of this CD that it must be considered as the disc with which to introduce this composer to music-lovers. An exciting experience … but who will be first to record Marx’s masterwork, the towering HerbstSymphonie.

Rob Barnett

Other Marx reviews on MusicWeb International:

Piano Music Lemoh Chandos
Piano Concertos ASV
Orchestral songs ASV
Naturtrilogie ASV
String Quartets ASV


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