“How could such a major composer fall into oblivion?”
Those are the words of conductor Riccardo Chailly concerning Austrian composer Joseph Marx, whose music remained firmly in the romantic tradition throughout his long career, which spanned the first six decades of the twentieth century. For the latter half of the twentieth century, Marx’s reputation rested on over 150 songs composed in the late romantic style, most of which he wrote while he was in his twenties; the rest of his music had been all but forgotten. Only recently has his technically demanding chamber music, including the?Rhapsodie for piano quartet — which received its American premiere last year from the New York Piano Quartet — enjoyed a revival.
Marx’s more famous contemporary, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is most well known as the composer who revolutionized music for the cinema. Korngold enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Paul Wittgenstein, the eminent pianist who lost his right arm in the First World War and commissioned the leading composers of his day to write works for piano left hand. Korngold’s Suite for piano left hand, two violins and cello has all the composer’s hallmarks — evocative and expressive melodies, brilliant harmonies, and dramatic virtuoso gestures — along with a few portents of the great film scores he would begin composing less than a decade later.
Here are two great works of 20th century high romanticism guaranteed to please fans of romantic repertoire and bravura chamber music. In their newest recording, the New York Piano Quartet rise to the challenge of Marx’s Rhapsodie, a veritable symphonic poem for four players, and Korngold’s entertaining Suite.
Joseph Marx: Rhapsodie
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Suite for piano left hand, two violins and cello*
New York Piano Quartet
Elmira Darvarova, violin / Ronald Carbone, viola and *violin / Samuel Magill, cello / Linda Hall, piano
Produced by Gene Gaudette
Engineered by John C. Baker
Recorded March 2011, Lawrenceville School Chapel, Lawrenceville, NJ