Notes and Editorial Reviews
The German/Austrian School of Romanticism allegedly died with the Arnold Schoenberg revolution, but in reality it flourished in the hands of composers like Korngold, Zemlinsky, and other bastions of the derrière-guard. Josef Marx (1882-1964) also belongs to this group. His name is not entirely unknown. Marx's songs have long lurked around the edge of the vocal repertoire. In the early 1980s Jorge Bolet resurrected Marx's opulent Romantic Piano Concerto, and Marc-André Hamelin made its first commercial recording. Similarly, Marx's three string quartets make their discographic debut here.
The A major Quartet, written in 1936/37 and substantially revised in 1948 is subtitled Quartetto Chromatico. The restless
chromaticism of its four movements sometimes makes Max Reger seem minimalist by comparison. At the same time, Marx avoids Reger's formal pretensions and inflated rhetoric through the use of shorter movements. While Marx's 1940/41 Quartetto in Modo Antico aims to honor medieval contrapuntal masters like Lassus and Palestrina, the music's modal leanings might easily be mistaken for Delius. As for the 1940/41 Quartetto in Modo Classico, Marx invites the ghosts of Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert in for an introspective, genuinely melodic, and rather touching brew. The Lyric Quartet does a super job with each of these works, imbuing them with discreet portamentos, careful dynamic gradations, and a very appropriate smidgen of schmaltz.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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