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Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984)
Symphony No. 7 (1954-55) [42:07]
Symphony No. 8 ‘21.08.1968’ (1968-69) [28:20]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Ladislav Slovák
rec. 1990/94, Concert Hall, Slovak Radio, Bratislava
NAXOS 8.573653 [70:35]

While it cannot be a guarantee of virtue, when you have a master of the eminence of Vítĕzslav Novák it is no wonder that Alexander Moyzes wrote music of enduring worth. Slovak ethnic music formed a vital kindling for his works.

You can feel this in the first movement of Moyzes' Seventh Symphony, written in the mid-fifties some five years after Novák's death. There's a clarity and pleasing lack of coagulation about the textures. Harp and flute are to the fore in the limpid and balmy first movement. It's almost Delian and there's nothing acerbic to be heard. Moyzes’ probing and disturbing Largo sets the stage for a picturesque Allegro tempestoso finale which feels out of sorts with its three predominantly idyllic predecessors. Another work kindred to the first three movements is Kodály's Summer Evening.

The Eighth Symphony, from almost fifteen years later, seems to have been sparked by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 - an event with repercussions for communist sympathies across the world. It is in three movements, of which the Tranquillo opening is a strange mix of relaxation and foreboding. The busily convulsive Allegro molto has few corners that are not jagged and it recalls similar moments in the symphonies of Andrzej Panufnik. The finale marries a Lento un poco tenuto with an Allegro ma non troppo. Here we are confronted with bleakness oddly intensified by mercilessly boisterous writing. It is little surprise to read in Ivan Marton's notes that this Symphony was banned in Moyzes' homeland during the period 1969-89.

This is the fourth issue in the programme of Naxos reissues from Marco Polo originals of the twelve Moyzes symphonies. It's definitely not the place to start your Moyzes odyssey. It does however demonstrate, in passionate performances, vividly recorded, Moyzes' migration from pastoral perfection to acrid dissent and disillusion.

Rob Barnett



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