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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, Slovakia
NAXOS 8.573655 [69.53]

This is a most welcome reissue which will bring real delight, completing the six CDs devoted to the symphonies of Alexander Moyzes. These were first issued on the companion Marco Polo label, and are to be welcomed in the cheaper format. Despite the quarter of a century since first appearance, recording quality is very good throughout.

Moyzes’ composing voice is rather conservative, solidly tonal, but with a keen ear for orchestral effects, rhythmic certainty and a sense of forward movement. This is a composer who knows very well the capabilities of the orchestra and allies this to a strong sense of architecture and full use of the orchestral palette. A particular feature is the terraced sound allied to a voice which is strongly lyrical. The influence of dance is evident throughout his work, but that does not imply any lack of seriousness. An interesting example is found in the third movement – andante: un poco tenuto – of the 11th Symphony. A long tune with a sense of forward movement is developed, almost sotto voce, in the strings, with commentary from woodwind and other instruments, including a gradually more insistent drumbeat. There are hints of the funeral procession and dignified tragedy. Here there is no searching for novelty but a direct nobility. It is fascinating too to hear how various themes from the other movements are developed in the finale.

The twelfth symphony – Moyzes’ last orchestral piece – has a moving and eloquent sparseness of expression. The opening Allegro has a strongly marked tempo, with meditative interventions, the second movement, Andante sostenuto, is lyrical with occasional harsher interruption. The work overall is worth several replayings to reveal its depths: the beauties are less instantly evident than in the previous work.

Recordings are very good. The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra is a very capable ensemble and the late Ladislav Slovák (he died in 1999) gives the music space to breathe with no loss of momentum.

A most worthwhile release, and one to give great pleasure.

Michael Wilkinson

Previous review: Rob Barnett

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