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Marx: Six Pieces For Piano, Canzone, Etc / Tonya Lemoh

Release Date: 07/29/2008 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10479   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MARX 6 Pieces for Piano. Herbst-Legende. Carneval (Nachtstück). Canzone. Die Flur der Engel Tonya Lemoh (pn) CHANDOS 10479 (54:38)

The Six Pieces for Piano appeared in 1916, or roughly a decade before the Nature Trilogy of tone poems (ASV 1137, reviewed in Fanfare 27:1). I think there’s good reason to believe the Rhapsodie was composed earlier Read more than that, as its Brahmsian thematic and harmonic contours are not representative of the set as a whole. For the rest of the pieces, Marx learned from Debussy, whom he greatly admired (and paid homage to years later in his tone poem Idylle , where a solo clarinet in the central section limns a variations on the flute theme from Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune ). He employed sparer textures and frequent, unresolved harmonic progressions, as in the Albumblatt, Ballade, and the fugue from the Präludium und Fuge—the last, a contrapuntally intricate but brilliant piece of writing. Sometimes he added florid whole-tone figurations around the theme, notably so in the Humoreske, and the Cyril Scott-like Arabeske. The tonality of each piece is never in doubt, even when, as in the Ballade, the harmonic movement is repeatedly interrupted.

Four short, unpublished pieces from the Austrian National Library’s collection of Marx’s manuscripts are used to fill out the program. Herbst-Legende , or “Legend of Autumn,” surrounds a dramatic central section with serene material. Carneval is a curious title for a hauntingly reflective and gentle nocturne; its subtitle, Nachtstück , is more appropriate. Canzone , by contrast, is well named: a simple song whose persistent enharmonic progressions create interesting coloristic effects. Die Flur der Engel is another spare, atmospheric night piece, this one recalling the Wagner of Parsifal and Tristan . A sincere tip of the hat to Agathe Tscherne, Marx’s heir, for providing access to this material.

Given the considerable quality of this music and the fact that the entire album lasts under 55 minutes, there’s every reason to wish there were more of it. Still, I can’t really raise an effective protest when no one has previously recorded any of these pieces, or when they represent nearly the totality of Marx’s piano śuvre available on disc. For all this, Tonya Lemoh deserves a vote of thanks. The young Australian-born pianist who trained at the Sydney Conservatorium and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music displays a fine technique, and a stylistic affinity for this kind of music. She’s rhythmically responsive, and demonstrates a broad palette of touch. I could have wished for more tonal variety in the Rhapsodie, and more willingness to let the music breathe in the central section of the Arabeske, but Lemoh shows herself an eloquent spokesperson for Marx. One hopes it will not be the last time she visits his music, as there is a lot more in the solo piano and chamber ensemble genres that remains unrecorded.

The album features very natural sound, and comes with decent liner notes that focus all too much space on Marx’s background, rather than his music. Warmly recommended.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (6) for Piano by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1916 
Herbst-Legende by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Carneval "Nachtstück" by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Canzone by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Die Flur der Engel by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Tonya Lemoh (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

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