Reznicek: Der Sleger

COMPOSERS: Reznicek
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Reznicek
WORKS: Der Sleger
PERFORMER: Beate KoppWDR Cologne Radio Chorus & SOMichail Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: 999 898-2
Here’s an intriguing story. According

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to most reliable reports, the Austrian

Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek and his

contemporary Richard Strauss were

the best of friends. Yet in Der Sieger

(The Victor), a mammoth orchestral

work which was premiered with

considerable success in Berlin in 1913,

the lesser-known Reznicek appears to

have taken a vicious side-swipe against

the perceived shallow and materialist

outlook of his famous colleague. How

else could one explain the underlying

narrative of the first two movements

of Der Sieger, subtitled ‘Ascent and

Female Companion’ and ‘The Dance

around the Golden Calf’ in which

a plethora of the Bavarian master’s

stylistic trademarks are subjected to

such sarcastic mimicry? But if irony

predominates in the first half of the

work, the long finale subtitled ‘The

Death’ presents a rather different and

much darker perspective, culminating

in a heart-rending, almost Mahlerian,

lament for alto solo and chorus.

Whatever intentions may have

driven Reznicek to compose Der

Sieger, there’s little doubt that it’s

a brilliantly orchestrated score,

brimful of memorable ideas,

wit and pathos. With superbly

committed playing from the WDR

Symphony Orchestra under Michail

Jurowski and a fine recording,

CPO has clearly unearthed a major

discovery that should delight

all devotees of extravagant late-

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Romantic orchestral music. Erik Levi