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Mixa: Orchestral Works Vol. 2 / Mussauer, Vienna Danube Philharmonic

Release Date: 10/10/2010 
Label:  Antes   Catalog #: 319270  
Composer:  Franz Mixa
Conductor:  Manfred Müssauer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danube Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MIXA Music on an Icelandic Folk Tune. Symphonies: No. 3; No. 5 Manfred Müssauer, cond; Vienna Danube P ANTES EDITION BM-CD 31.9270 (68:51)

What could be more anomalously exotic than a Viennse-born conductor-composer who in his early years spent almost a decade in Iceland and whose successful stay there as conductor of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra had a seminal impact on the kind of music he wrote for the remainder of his long life? This is the case of Franz Mixa Read more (1902–94)—a pupil of Joseph Marx and Robert Heger—whose career after the war made a 90-degree turn to membership in the Austrian musical establishment as director of the Graz Conservatory.

This release is the second on the Antes label devoted to several of the five symphonies Mixa produced after his return to Austria, all of them deeply marked by his experience of the Icelandic folk music during his formative period. None of this music, however, is directly appealing in the ordinary folkloristic manner; it is consistently dour and mournful, retaining throughout a kind of craggy authenticity.

Each of these symphonies—Nos. 3 (1969) and 5 (1975)—consists of three movements of approximately 25 minutes duration and is dominated for the most part by slow to moderate tempi and a rigidly spare transparency of orchestration, with emphasis on an unspectacular use of percussion, especially the snare drum. This listener is reminded of the Norwegian giant Harald Saeverud but without any of his rhythmic vitality; others may think of the Swede Allan Pettersson minus his immense architecture and narrative intensity. In any case, this is genuinely earnest and obstinately self-determined music-making with its own high quotient of an integrity that insists on our attention and respect.

Both this volume and the preceding one open with a slightly more approachable work—the Icelandic Rhapsody then, and here Music on an Icelandic Folk Tune —but once again there is very little conventionally colorful exploitation of easily assimilated melodies but rather a hard-won appreciation of the harmonic and inward psychological characteristics of this peculiar national melos.

One can only presume that these well-prepared performances by the Danube Philharmonic of Vienna under the dedicated Manfred Müssauer are definitive, while sonic and production values are more than adequate. Although the Antes Edition label, a subsidiary of the Italian firm Bella Musica affiliated with the German label Thorofon, is not currently imported here, a little effort on the Internet could pay off handsomely. All hardy collectors looking for a radically new and stimulating experience should look no further.

FANFARE: Paul A. Snook
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 in E minor by Franz Mixa
Conductor:  Manfred Müssauer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danube Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969 
Symphony no 5 in A Minor by Franz Mixa
Conductor:  Manfred Müssauer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danube Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975 

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