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Joseph Marx - Orchestral Songs and Choral Works
The Austrian composer Joseph Marx was for much of his long career a musical authority of world renown. Within his large output, his songs were amongst his greatest musical achievements, unifying romanticism, impressionism and expressionism with revolutionary results. Many thought him the rightful successor to Hugo Wolf and yet today the name and music of Joseph Marx have fallen into obscurity.
The ‘Marx style’ is unmistakable. It is characterised by a highly personal compositional technique displaying a polyphonic harmony of full sonority, allied to masterly contrapuntal skills, and frequent key changes which occur apparently at random but are in fact distributed with utter logic. The music strikes the listener as timeless, refreshingly modern and, above all, surprising, able to exploit tonal means of expression to the full and raise the spirits of every true lover of melody.
Chandos’ Record of the Month sees Jirí Belohlávek conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the long overdue premiere of four choral works, along with the first complete recording of Marx’s orchestral songs for soprano, performed by Christine Brewer.
Three works are of particular note. Herbstchor an Pan, a single-movement cantata written in 1911, lasts very nearly twenty minutes and was Marx’s first, and for many years only, orchestral composition. It has inexplicably fallen into oblivion in the past five decades. However, it has turned out to be one of the masterpieces of its entire era. Ein Neujahrshymnus (A Hymn for the New Year) is richly orchestrated and demonstrates the profound romantic vein of Joseph Marx; it is here performed for the first time in its orchestral version. This disc represents not only the first recording of Berghymne but also its world premiere performance.
We are indebted to the Marx Society for their efforts to promote this composer, and allowing the wider public to hear the outstanding quality of his works. The greatness of the music is indisputable and this recording will make for an important addition to the classical music catalogue.
“The luxuriantly recorded Chandos disc is particularly welcome for featuring premiere recordings of four relatively early choral pieces including the lavishly scored Herbstchor an Pan… Performed here with considerable emotional conviction by Jirí Belohlávek and the massed forces of the Trinity Boys Choir and the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, it is by far the most striking of these works... Those drawn to the creamy sonorities of a soprano voice soaring above a lush orchestral fabric will find much to savour in Christine Brewer's warm and ecstatic renditions of 'Barkarole', 'Selige Nacht' and 'Sommerlied'...” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ****
“The most substantial work in this selection of Joseph Marx's orchestral songs and choral pieces is the Herbstchor an Pan ('Autumn Hymn to Pan'), his first orchestral work (1911) but one in which his easy mastery of a rich instrumental palette is already evident. His idiom was formed early and changed little: indeed, he had little sympathy with change, and notoriously failed to mention Schoenberg, Berg or even Hindemith when he brought out Weltsprache Musik, a book of aesthetics and philosophy, in the last year of his life, 1964.
It should be no surprise, then, to find that here is a rich, post-Wagnerian manner, luscious in harmony and sensuous in orchestration. Christine Brewer has the floating purity of voice to soar easily over Marx's beautifully judged textures in, for instance Selige Nacht and Maienblüten, both rapt in manner and unashamedly reflective, the latter suggesting the atmosphere of Strauss's Four Last Songs. Some similarity betwen Marx and Delius suggests that they had both moved away from Wagnerian harmony in comparable directions, influenced by a pantheistic response to nature: lovers of Delius's SeaDrift may appreciate the harmonic flavour and modulatory side-slips of the Herbstchor an Pan. It is in this vein that Marx seems at his most effective; the more exuberant songs sound rather laboured and their jollity contrived. Belohlávek draws a suitably rich manner from the orchestra and gives Brewer loyal support with textures that are full but always lucid, and served well by the recording.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Post-Wagnerian richness and lush harmony marks Marx's orchestral songs. Christine Brewer has the floating purity of voice to soar easily over Marx's beautifully judged textures in for instance "Selige Nacht" and "Maienblüten", both rapt in manner and unashamedly reflective, the latter suggesting the atmosphere of Strauss's Four Last Songs.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2009
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Live Recordings 1942/43
An die Nachtigall, Op. 46 No. 4 (Text: L.C.H. Hölty)
Feldeinsamkeit, Op. 86 No. 2
Ständchen, Op. 106 No. 1
Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43 No. 1
Gypsy Melodies (7), Op. 55 (B104)
Es hat die Rose sich beklagt
Auf dem Meere
Lied eines Mädchens
Der bescheidene Schäfer
Rastlose Liebe, D138
Mignon I (Heiß mich nicht reden) D726
Frühlingssehnsucht, D 957 No. 3
Widmung, Op. 25 No. 1
Marienwürmchen Op. 79/14
Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2
Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3
Schlagende Herzen Op. 29 No. 2
Ich trage meine Minne, Op. 32 No. 1
Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5
Gesang Weylas (No. 46 from Mörike-Lieder)
Nimmersatte Liebe (No. 9 from Mörike-Lieder)
In dem Schatten meiner Locken (No. 2 from Spanisches Liederbuch: Weltliche Lieder)
Wenn du, mein Liebster steigst zum Himmel auf (No. 36 from Italienisches Liederbuch)
Frühling übers Jahr (No. 28 from Goethe-Lieder)
The recording conditions could hardly have been more dramatic, made in the bleak mid-war winter of 1942-3, lirico-spinto soprano Hilde Konetzni in a Romantic song programme with Josef Krips as her accompanist and mentor. Konetzni is best known as the Sieglinde in two complete recordings of the Valkyrie under Wilhelm Furtwängler; Krips had been banned from working by the Nazis, so his coaching activities had to be carried out underground, under a constant threat to his life.These private recordings were made by Hermann May, the then sound engineer of the Vienna State Opera, and can now be released on CD thanks to their careful restoration by the Eichinger recording studio in Vienna in collaboration with Gottfried Kraus. The result will delight more than just those interested in Josef Krips's legendary talent for carefully coaching singers, on account of the warmth and immediacy of the ensemble achieved by Konetzni and Krips.This is just as evident in the songs by lesser-known composers such as Robert Franz and Joseph Marx.The Gypsy Melodies by Antonín Dvorák are both the highpoint and the culmination of this recital, not just on account of the interpretative art they display, typical of the time, nor merely as a document of two artistic personalities. But as testament to a friendship that was sustained despite adversity.
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Ljuba Welitsch: Broadcasts from 1947 - 1949
Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103
Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43 No. 1
Die Mainacht, Op. 43 No. 2
Meine Liebe ist grün, Op. 63 No. 5
Marienlieder, Op. 22
Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Op. 105 No. 1
Vergebliches Ständchen, Op. 84 No. 4
Und gestern hat er mir Rosen gebracht
Valse de Chopin
Der bescheidene Schäfer
Hat dich die Liebe berurht
Im Walde D834
Die junge Nonne, D828
Die Forelle, D550
Liebesbotschaft, D957 No.1
Widmung, Op. 25 No. 1
Der Nussbaum, Op. 25 No. 3
Mondnacht (No. 5 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)
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