As much as I've enjoyed and reviewed positively the previous issues in cpo's ongoing Reznicek series, I'm afraid I must demur on this CD, primarily on the basis of the First Symphony, which frankly sounds less like what I think of as Reznicek than anything so far, perhaps because it is his first published effort at a symphony. It suffers from a long first movement -- twenty-two minutes -- that is elephantine. It bloviates in pompous manner for most of its length and although it has what some would consider typical high romantic German symphonic character, its themes and construction are well below those of the masters of the period. The scherzo, placed second, is inferior Bruckner. The third movement, an Adagio, is a passable slow movement. The finale, another Adagio, is a set of variations that somehow never quite get off the ground. No, this is not a symphony I would recommend to someone coming to Reznicek for the first time (and certainly not for the first time after hearing and liking the 'Donna Diana' overture; it's nothing like that gem). It is no surprise that the symphony lay unplayed for ninety years after its premiere. I have a feeling that it is included here simply because cpo and Frank Beermann, the conductor, had conceived the notion of recording all of the symphonies. For more satisfying recordings of his other orchestral works -- particularly the tone poems -- go here: Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek: Schlemihl; Raskolnikoff or here: Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek: Der Sieger; or here: Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek: Chamisso-Variationen.
The filler on this disc is an eleven minute set of 'Four Songs of Prayer and Repentance' with texts from scripture. They are decent but not great songs, predominantly melancholy or soulful. The mezzo-soprano, Marina Prudenskaya, has a lovely voice but her sound is so Russian that I had to listen more closely to make sure she was indeed singing the German texts.
As before Frank Beermann leads excellent performances from the Brandenburg State Orchestra, Frankfurt, although I suspect he could have lightened the orchestral textures in the symphony to their benefit. And as before the English translation of the liner note of Eckhardt van den Hoogen, itself fairly opaque even in German, is miserably non-idiomatic.
Only for a Reznicek completist, which I consider myself to be. But I suspect I won't be returning to this issue very often.