Joseph Marx "Orchestral Songs" on ASV: BBC Music Magazine, Oct. 2004
Angela Maria Blasi, soprano
Stella Doufexis, mezzo-soprano
Bochum Symphony Orchestra/Steven Sloane
Joseph Marx, Austrian composer, teacher and critic, and reorganiser of Turkey's musical life, has never been quite forgiven for being such a shameless conservative. Grove all but writes him off as "a composer of purely local interest". Yet singers from Lotte Lehmann to Arleen Auger and Hermann Prey have championed his vocal works. And so, indefatigably, has the American conductor Steven Sloane. This compilation of Marx's previously unrecorded orchestral songs certainly gives them an enthusiastic sell: If this doesn't convert you, nothing will.
The Bochum Symphony Orchestra luxuriates in the spacious and lovingly balanced recording acoustic which misses not a trick of Marx's multi-dimensional scoring - at its most imaginative and sophisticated in the 1930 song-symphony, Verklärtes Jahr. Its five quintessentially late-Romantic settings epitomise the enraptured celebration of the paradise lost which illuminates so many of Marx's songs.
The composer's early outpourings sound like Richard Strauss tasted through spun sugar: Angela Maria Blasi brings admirable clarity and unselfconscious elation to the ecstatic "Hat dich die Liebe berührt", just as Stella Doufexis sympathetically binds Marx and Whitman together as soulmates of affirmation in "Jugend und Alter". Marx's melodic facility and unsearching harmonic language makes for easy listening: too easy too often to be deeply memorable, yet ever-seductive through the stardust.Hilary Finch Performance: * * * * (out of five)
Sound: * * * * (out of five)
http://www.joseph-marx.org/ © 2001-2005 Berkant Haydin