The music of Austrian composer Joseph Marx (1882-1964) largely fell out of public favor very early in his career, after the First World War, but he continued to compose in the same lushly late-Romantic idiom throughout his long life. A significant part of his work consists of songs and because of that and because of their shared interest in some of the same poets, he is sometimes compared with Hugo Wolf, over 20 years his senior, but his music is closer to the harmonic conservatism of his friend Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whose European career also went into eclipse in the wake of the war. The songs recorded here, written between 1907 and 1932, show little stylistic development, and all have the characteristics of typical fin de siècle lieder: ingratiatingly warm harmonies, generously lyrical vocal writing, and sensitive text setting. Marx's Germanic Romanticism is flavored with impressionism and some of the harmonic freedom of Scriabin, but his voice is not particularly distinctive. Fans of late-Romantic and post-Romantic lieder are likely to find them immensely appealing, though. The songs are varied in mood and tone, his accompaniments are inventive and evocative, and his shapely vocal lines give singers plenty of opportunity to shine. Mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager's voice is beautifully suited to this repertoire. She has an almost soprano-like brightness, she can soar gracefully through the songs, and she brings a broad expressive range to the music. The warmth and clarity of her voice are especially evident in songs like Am Fenster, Sendung, Selige Nacht, and Schlafend trägt man mich in mein Heimatland, a little jewel of a song. Anthony Spiri provides a flexible and beautifully shaded accompaniment, making the most of Marx's idiomatic piano writing. CPO's sound is clean and nicely balanced.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
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