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.
Other Marx reviews on MusicWeb International:
Music Lemoh Chandos