11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Passionately romantic spirit vs. ancient-style impressionism,
This review is from: Marx: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)The Piano Concertos of Joseph Marx (1882-1964)
- Romantic Piano Concerto (1919/20) ==> 41 minutes
Joseph Marx was not only a widely acknowledged Mid-European composer of his era but also one of the most admired and most active teachers within the international music community, and as such he was no less famous than his French contemporary Nadia Boulanger. Also, Marx who often accompanied his songs on the piano until old age, was an excellent pianist. Those of his students who are still living today recall that he, in the middle of his lectures, would spontaneously play even highly demanding piano pieces anytime flawlessly and from memory. At the time he wrote the "Romantic Piano Concerto" (1919/20), Marx's development as a composer of orchestral music was already fulfilled, and as a symphonist often conducting his own works, he wrote further large scale works such as "Nordland-Rhapsodie" (Nordic Rhapsody) and "Natur-Trilogie" (Nature Trilogy", already released on ASV).
The energetic piano part of the Romantic Piano Concerto (1919/20) which demands a high degree of virtuosity and stamina from the soloist is modern in sound texture, so that stylistically the "Romantic" is close to those Scandinavian piano concertos of Palmgren and Hannikainen, as well as to British piano concertos (e.g. Harty and Delius), while the manifold harmonies are often reminiscent of Scriabin and Debussy, and especially of Marx's Bulgarian counterpart and friend Pancho Vladigerov. The concerto could be described as a symphonic duet between piano and orchestra. The piano rarely appears as a separate sound body but is entwined with the symphonic arrangement and often used for its colouristic effects. However, this must seem a thankless task to the majority of pianists, as only the skilled listener will realize the enormous show of strength which is required from the soloist. This could be one of the reasons why only a few seem to have attempted to play this magnificently boisterous, wildly romantic virtuoso piece.
On one of his car trips south, Marx whose grandmother was Italian, visited the Castelli Romani, the legendary ruins on the forested hills near Rome. In his hereafter named second piano concerto "Castelli Romani - Three Pieces for Piano and Orchestra" (1929-1930), Marx has set an outstanding memorial for this spot which is so highly significant from an art-historical point of view, as he would also do soon afterwards with Auf der Campagna (the fifth movement of "Verklärtes Jahr" for middle voice and orchestra, 1930-32). The world première of "Castelli Romani" took place on the 5th of February, 1931, in Darmstadt under Karl Böhm. The celebrated soloist Walter Gieseking in letters to Joseph Marx frequently expressed his adoration for this remarkable virtuoso work and his gratitude for the opportunity to perform it. "Castelli Romani" in E-flat major that was never commercially recorded to date, is a magical firework display of Mediterranean emotions and masterfully instrumented atmospheric images. Here Marx symbolises the spiritual life of classical Greek and Roman culture as well as of the Renaissance. His impressionisms, enriched with folkloristic elements, remind one of Ravel but also mirror the glowing passion of Charles Martin Loeffler's Pagan Poem for piano and orchestra, yet the third movement of Castelli Romani in particular pays homage to the famous Roman Trilogy by Ottorino Respighi who, not surprisingly, was friends with Marx.
Marx, who never wrote film music, left a multitude of dazzling themes that make Hollywood's wildest dreams appear grey. His works enrich the whole genre of the late-romantic piano concerto and will, thanks to this recording, hopefully be performed more frequently and live on as treasures of music history in the hearts of the listeners.
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Initial post: 8 Sep 2010 18:58:57 BDT
Rick My says:
I would have liked to hear the writer's view on the performance style, acoustics and recording quality on this particular CD. This would be particularly helpful as there are no samples of the tracks on this page.
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