Joseph Marx did not become a full-time composer until 1908 when he was 26 years old. In the next eight years he made up for lost time by composing over one hundred songs and a series of major chamber works. This disc, the fifth of the composer’s works on CPO (quartets
and orchestral works
), contains one of the most important of those chamber works as well as the last few of those many songs.
Marx’s unending flow of melody is one of his most attractive features to his adherents, but can occasionally cause him to lose focus. This is not an issue in the Trio-Phantasie. Each of the five movements is concise by Marx standards and the whole progresses to a distinct formal and emotional destination; cf. the Rhapsody for Piano Quartet (see review
) with the term “Phantasie” derived from the work’s size, not its construction. With its “Schwungvoll” tempo marking, the non-stop first movement is forthright, dynamic and rhapsodic. Tone-color is its most important element, followed by the serenity and benignity that one frequently finds in Marx. The succeeding Adagietto is stately at first but gradually becomes more serious and impassioned.
The opening of the Scherzando is conventionally effervescent but the succeeding trio section is deeply nostalgic. In the return of the scherzo material Marx combines these two emotions with a master hand. The music leads directly into the fourth-movement Intermezzo which, like the Scherzando, has a slow, affecting middle section. The Tanz-Finale follows without pause, subjecting the third and fourth movement material to varied development, gradually increasing in intensity before returning to the serenity of the work’s opening pages.
The poet and playwright Anton Wildgans was a friend of Marx’s for over twenty years and Marx set a number of his poems. The present group was written in 1916 at the end of Marx’s great flush of song composition. While the texts vary in subject they all have reference to a pastoralism reminiscent of the Vienna Sezession. The songs are also connected by the obbligato use in each of an instrument in addition to the piano: violin, viola, cello, and flute respectively. Durch Einsamkeiten
have an abstract quality that is rare in Marx with the latter song featuring an almost child-like vocal line above a dense chordal accompaniment. The combination of cello and piano is especially effective here. Both Du bist der Garten
and Pan trauert um Syrinx
have an erotic clement but otherwise are quite different. Du bist der Garten
is an evocation of evening - first ecstatic, then peaceful as the sun sets. The obbligato violin adds to the sense of quietness. Pan trauert um Syrinx
is a real show-piece with a Debussy-like use of the flute and bravura writing for the soprano. In spite of the wide range of emotion expressed it ends tentatively.
The Hyperion Trio has previously recorded trios of Schumann
and Paul Graener
. They are notable both for the clarity of their musical lines and their rhythmic energy. Their true star is the cellist Katherina Troe. She shows great sensitivity in both works but supplies plenty of energy when needed. Hagen Schwarzrock is also quite energetic in the Trio-Phantasie but really comes into his own in the Wildgans songs, demonstrating great insight in his accompaniments. Simone Nold has the luxurious voice needed for this repertoire: autumnal in the first two songs and ecstatic in the last. The four instrumentalists in the Wildgans songs are uniformly good and the notes by Thomas Leibnitz are very informative about both Marx and his music. Recording quality is mostly very clear. This disc has real attractions and not just for fans of Marx.