Joseph Marx Orchestral Songs: Review by the American Record Guide, Jan/Feb 2005

ASV has been very kind to the music of Erich Korngold. Based on this recording and the two that preceded it, that kindness will now extend to the music of Korngold's musical soul-mate, Joseph Marx (1882-1964).

I need not detain you at length selling you on Marx's orchestral songs, 22 of which are heard here. If you like (no, love) the orchestral songs of Strauss, Mahler, and even Reger (Sept/Oct 2000} then I can recommend this without hesitation. Marx writes in the grand tradition of late-romantic Vienna. His lush melodies and transparent orchestration seldom fail to please.

The beauty of the music is mostly matched by the performances and the recording. Soprano Angela Maria Blasi is a delight, delivering a faultless performance. Stella Doufexis, on the other hand, whose contributions make up the second half of the recording, doesn't quite match Blasi's level. She would have sounded just delightful had her contributions come first, but no matter. She's good to Blasi's great, and that's good enough.

ASV captures the proceedings in rich, spacious sound, with the performers in realistic perspective. This is a much better recording than the recent one of Korngold orchestral songs, which places the rather anemic orchestra (the Bruckner Orchestra under Caspar Richter) too far back and dampens everything in rather dry sound. If only the Korngold had been lucky to have the performers and engineers who make this recording so good.

Text and translations are included. The notes suffer from some clumsy translation (or just plain awkward writing), but this is one of the few faults in what has to be one of the most lovely recordings to cross my desk in some time.


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