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Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984)
Symphony No. 11, op. 79 (1978) [37:41]
Symphony No. 12, op. 83 (1983) [32:08]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Ladislav Slovák
rec. 1993/95, Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava
NAXOS 8.573655 [69:53]

On its first appearance this final recording in Marco Polo’s Moyzes’ symphony cycle (8.225093) escaped coverage until it was reviewed by David Barker.

These last two symphonic essays are of substantial length and are respectively in four and three movements. For works written at the worn end of the 1970s and three years into the next decade they are tirelessly melodic, tonally imaginative and texturally lucid. These have a keener edge and a brighter glint than broadly contemporary equivalents such as diverse orchestral works written by Piston, Milhaud, Honegger, Rubbra, Rawsthorne or Lutyens. On the other hand, the relaxation, which is often to Moyzes’ taste, does not pay dividends in terms of transfixing the listener’s attention. This is particularly the case with the Eleventh Symphony.

The Eleventh feels like an essay in easy-going expatiation rather than in fashioning a compellingly steered trajectory. It is attractive, right enough, but not gripping in the sense we find in Bohuslav Martinů’s Fourth Symphony or in Edmund Rubbra’s approximately coeval Eleventh and, from roughly the same time-frame, Aulis Sallinen’s Fourth. In Baxian terms, the Eleventh is the pictorial equivalent of the English composer’s Third and Fourth Symphonies compared to the unshakeable concentration and vice-like tightness of his Symphonies Two and Six.

After the gallery amble that is the Eleventh there is more vertebrate structure and fibrous invention in the three-movement Twelfth. This was written one year before Moyzes’ death. It finds serene, sober and sombre episodes and juxtaposes these with a grim jollity that verges on the sort of thing encountered in the two symphonies by Kurt Weill.

The booklet notes by Ivan Marton buttress the listening experiences very well. As for the sound, it was, and remains, really good. As with other entries in this series the technical side was entrusted to Hubert Geschwandtner. His handiwork, once again, proves a pleasure to encounter.

Rob Barnett

Earlier issues in the Naxos Moyzes Symphony series
Symphonies 1 and 2
Symphonies 3 and 4
Symphonies 5 and 6
Symphonies 7 and 8
Symphonies 9 and 10

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