WORKS: Eine symphonische Nachtmusik; Idylle; Eine Frühlingsmusik
PERFORMER: Bochum SO/Steven Sloane
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1137
Anyone with a penchant for the lush orchestral soundscapes favoured by such composers as Schreker, Zemlinsky and Korngold will surely warm to the abundant glow of the ‘Nature Trilogy’ by Austrian composer Joseph Marx. Yet this ambitious work, dating from the early Twenties, was never performed in its entirety during Marx’s lifetime, even though its three self-sufficient tone poems (Symphonic Night Music, Idyll and Spring Music) enjoyed the advocacy of many distinguished interpreters, including Clemens Krauss, Oswald Kabasta and Fritz Reiner.
No doubt such conductors were particularly impressed by the composer’s wonderfully sensitive mastery of the orchestra and by his distinctive synthesis of late-Romantic and impressionist idioms. In this respect, Marx’s profound identification with nature and his strong allegiance to Debussy (particularly manifested in the frequent use of whole-tone harmonies and florid wind arabesques) provided a justifiable alternative to the harsher objective style favoured by some of his contemporaries.
Although there are moments in this score where Marx’s tendency to dwell too longingly on the same kind of material seems counterproductive to the overall effect, Steven Sloane and the Bochum Symphony manage to minimise such flaws by delivering a performance of stunning beauty and conviction supported by suitably opulent engineering. Erik Levi