In the olden days, Naxos released mid-priced basic repertoire recordings under their own name and more esoteric music under full-priced Marco Polo (“the label of discovery”). It’s always good when Marco Polo title are rereleased under the Naxos label. It exposes the music to a wider potential audience, as Naxos’ lower prices encourage listeners to take a chance.
In the case of the Alexander Moyzes symphonies, it isn’t much of a gamble. Moyzes was a major figure in Slovak music. Moyzes taught three generations of Slovak composers, influencing the direction of classical music in the region.
Moyzes successfully blended traditional music with classical forms. It created a rich, vibrant style that was readily accessible to audiences both in and outside the region. Moyzes first symphony premiered in 1929. Moyzes reworked it, toning down the folk elements.
The completed 1937 revision is what Ladislav Slovák and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra recorded. The work is a lyrical, post-Romantic gem. I was much reminded of Josef Suk, but with a more cosmopolitan sound.
Moyzes’ Second Symphony in A minor was completed in 1932. Like the first, it received substantial revision, losing a movement in the process. The finished version of 1941 has just two movements. The second features a fugue that continues to build in intensity. I heard parallels with Prokofiev works of the same period, but Moyzes is his own man.
Ladislav Slovák leads the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in spirited performances of these works. This series was originally released in 2000, but the quality of the recordings hold up well. For anyone interested in the music of the 20th Century, or music of Eastern Europe, these are symphonies worth exploring.