Reznicek: Symphony No. 2 (Ironic)

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COMPOSERS: Reznicek
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Reznicek
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 (Ironic)
PERFORMER: Berne SO/Frank Beermann
CATALOGUE NO: 777 056-2
Judging by the two large-scale symphonic poems Schlemihl and Der Sieger which have also been released by CPO, Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek developed a special reputation for musical satire, taking off in particular some of the stylistic clichés of his great contemporary Richard Strauss. Symphony No. 2, composed in 1905 some years before these works, follows a similar line, its naïve musical ideas being subjected to the kind of ironic commentary that one encounters in the more famous composer’s Till Eulenspiegel.

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The rather more striking Fifth of 1924 is a different matter. A highly original conception, each of its four movements being allied to a particular dance rhythm – Polonaise, Csardas, Ländler and Tarantella – the work manifests a more sinister death-ridden brand of grotesquerie. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it enjoyed a new lease of life some years later as a ballet whose scenario was inspired to some degree by two popular contemporary films, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

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Both symphonies are certainly well worth hearing and secure enthusiastic and committed performances. At the same time the Berne Symphony Orchestra betrays some signs of insecurity in some of the more technically demanding passages, a problem that is undoubtedly magnified in the lighter orchestration and clearly focused recording of the Second. Erik Levi