Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 7
Sound Quality: 9
Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945) presents a puzzle. Obviously talented, his concert music often reveals a curiously faded, tired quality, as though he knew he was working within a tradition on its way out, but perhaps didn’t much care. This is especially true of works such as the Carnaval Suite in the Olden Style (1935), but even the Symphonic Suite No,. 1 (1882) reveals something of the same quality. It’s partly a function of a lack of melodic memorability, but also a certain flabbiness of rhythm. There are moments in both works where you just want to give the music a good kick and yell, “Wake up!” because you know that it wants to but can’t quite get it together.
The best piece here is the Traumspiel-Suite (1921) because, as the title suggests, it evokes a certain escapist fantasy that Reznicek was able to express especially well (the piece originally began life as incidental music to an avant-garde Strindberg play). I have no issues with the performances. Stefan Solyom leads the Weimarer Staatskapelle with conviction and the orchestra sounds well. The German radio engineers also do a typically fine job with the sonics. If you’ve been collecting CPO’s admirable series of Reznicek’s orchestral works you can add this disc to the pile with complete confidence.
While I usually enjoy Reznicek’s music, and was looking forward to this program, I do find that after having lived with a lot of it for quite a while it leaves a stale aftertaste that dampens the desire to hear more. Maybe that’s why Reznicek’s reputation faded so quickly in the first place. Perhaps if you don’t know his work at all this disc will make a more positive impression, and my best advice is that you sample it in small doses and take it from there.
Reference Recording: None