The composer Emil von Reznicek, Austrian of Czech background, had a long career that was finally cut short by fascism (his wife was Jewish). He was quite popular in his time and is probably worth another look, for he kept up with the times: his style changed substantially as he got older. This intriguing release from the CPO label gives a little sampling of his work. Reznicek started out writing music in a Wagnerian vein (he wrote quite a few operas, including one about a zeppelin and another, Donna Diana, that is occasionally performed), and the Symphonische Suite No. 1 (1882) suggests what might have happened if Wagner had tried his hand at writing instrumental music in smaller forms. The Traumspiel-Suite is a set of incidental music for August Strindberg's expressionist drama A Dream Play; the young Berg might have written more psychologically penetrating music, but one can easily imagine Reznicek's pieces being performed with the play. Later in his life Reznicek flirted with atonality, jazz, and neoclassicism; perhaps this diversity has been held against him, but he should be judged on the results. Perhaps the most interesting of the three works is the neoclassic Karneval-Suite im alten Stil, from the early 1930s. It wasn't necessarily pioneering by that time, but it's a clever little work that adds original rhythmic wrinkles to its Baroque dances; sample the 40-second "Passepied." This work is not derivative of anybody else's music. The Weimarer Staatskapelle under Stefan Solyom moves easily among the diverse styles here and creates evocative readings in each one. A worthwhile look at a composer who sheds lots of light on 50 years of music or more.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Karneval-Suite im alten Stil|
|Symphonische Suite Nr. 1 e-moll|