The following review was published on

Exquisite Songs; Mostly Good Performances

The review here dated August 7 was written by Berkant Haydin, an expert on the music of Joseph Marx, and I certainly don't have much to add to what he's written. Indeed, he also co-wrote the booklet notes for this release and his review is actually an abstract of those notes.

He's certainly right in saying that Marx's orchestral songs are luscious. The first set, eleven songs sung to perfection by soprano Angela Maria Blasi, are mostly short, usually strophic and have brilliant orchestral accompaniments and melodies reminiscent of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. Marx was not only a master orchestrator, he had a fecund melodic gift. The last song (and longest at seven minutes), 'Barkarole,' ('Barcarolle') is rather different in that it is almost a symphonic poem with voice obbligato.

The next two sets of songs (six 'Songs for Middle Voice,' and 'Verklärtes Jahr' ['Transfigured Year'], a 'song symphony' of five movements) are sung by mezzo Stella Doufexis and unfortunately suffer a bit, to my ears, from the somewhat wearing quality of her voice, which seems to lack some degree of support and a clear central core. The songs themselves, however, are simply lovely. In the later set, written in 1930-1932, what has been called 'Romantic impressionism' is evident in the extremely intricate and wholly lovely orchestral writing. There are many moments that sound almost like Respighi, which is not too far-fetched as some of the music was inspired by Marx's love of Italy. Further, it quotes from his Second Piano Concerto, subtitled 'Castelli Romani' ('Roman Castles'). So, while Doufexis's performance leaves a bit to be desired, the music itself is extremely winning and deserves to be better known.

I understand that there is a real possibility that Marx's two piano concerti will be recorded and released some time in the next year or so. I have, through the kindness of Mr Haydin, heard old off-the-air recordings of those concerti and am eager to hear modern performances. And we're still awaiting a first recording of what some might consider Marx's masterpiece, his monumental 'Herbstsymphonie' ('Autumn Symphony').

Scott Morrison

Oct. 14, 2004

  Back to the Discography (English page)  

  Zurück zur Diskographie (deutsche Seite)   © 2001-2005 Berkant Haydin