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Joseph MARX (1882-1964)
Complete Orchestral Music - Volume 1
Symphonische Nachtmusik (Symphonic Night Music) (1922) [25:58]
Idylle - Concertino über die pastorale Quart (Concertino on the Pastoral Fourth) (1925) [14:49]
Eine Frühlingsmusik (Spring Music) (1925) [23:12]
Bochum Symphony Orchestra/Steven Sloane
rec. 2002, Maximilianpark, Hamm, Germany
NAXOS 8.573831 [64:20]

This lush and mostly un-Germanic music first appeared on ASV CDDCA1137 (review). Marx coasts around the same heartland as Franz Schmidt but is more sultry and impressionistic. He is in much the same firmament as Bantock in his Pagan Symphony and Bax in his Spring Fire, Nympholept and Fourth Symphony. Marx speaks the hieratic language of a nature ecstatic. Make no mistake, this is discursively rhapsodic, sunny, bold, soused in melody and eloquent with the voices of nature. Other tributaries flow into these works: Debussy, Delius, Korngold and Waxman; not that this music is particularly dramatic. Even so, you could be forgiven at times for imagining Bette Davis and Paul Henreid swimming into view. Marx's natural proclivity for "unendliche" lyricism is echoed into his starry and Klimt-like orchestral writing.

This sequence of three meaty, rhapsodic yet interlocked pieces makes up a single triptychal work: the slightly more than hour-long Natur-Trilogie. The Symphonische Nachtmusik was originally entitled Moonlit Night. Those words give you a more candid description of this piercingly indulgent music. The violins are prominent - both leading and luxuriating. A Daphnis-like splendour and Mediterranean opulence is in the ascendant. The middle piece, Idylle-Concertino is more sun-bathed idyll than concertino. Its romantic and, yes, generously garrulous ways are wreathed in birdsong. There's some gloriously aureate passages for the French horns (6:30-7:00) as also in another of his orchestral works, Feste im Herbst. Eine Frühlingsmusik occasionally leans on the example of Richard Strauss and of Franz Schmidt in his Second Symphony. Even so, Marx's demeanour and temperature in this piece has a concinnity with that heard in the other two 'panels'. The emphasis across the three is close kinship rather than contrast.

The invaluable scene-setting notes in English and German are by Berkant Haydin and Martin Rucker. Mr Haydin has also produced an outstandingly thorough, clean and very useable Marx website.

Back in 2002 we did not have long to wait for the delightfully Respighian Castelli Romani (1929-30, for piano and orchestra) and the verdant Verklärtes Jahr (1930-32) the song-cycle for voice and orchestra. Naxos will surely have them awaiting release, rather like the migration of the symphonies of Lajtha and Moyzes from Marco Polo to Naxos. I should add that Hyperion were early in the field with Marx's Romantic Piano Concerto.

The shame is that ASV's Bochum/Steven Sloane team never reached Marx's Ein Herbstsymphonie which preceded Natur-Trilogie by a few years, This 70-minute Symphony was at last heard in the UK and in all its towering glory at the Royal Festival Hall last year with the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski.

Marx's impressionistic South German voice soaks into this music the quintessence of lyrical expression.
Rob Barnett



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