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László Lajtha: Orchestral Works, Vol. 5

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Robert Cummings
Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony's finale is said to be an example of forced jubilation, the bombastic ending supposedly representing the composer's reaction to the repressive Stalin regime's dictum that artists must celebrate and be happy in their works. The Fourth Symphony of Laszlo Lajtha 1892-1963 pronounced Lye-tuh is perhaps another such example, as evidenced especially in the finale and in the first half of the opening movement. In the early 1950' the Hungarian Communist government, at the behest of its Soviet bosses, began demanding that composers write less complex, more approachable and optimistic music. Lajtha must have felt the pressure, as he turned ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Robert Cummings
Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony's finale is said to be an example of forced jubilation, the bombastic ending supposedly representing the composer's reaction to the repressive Stalin regime's dictum that artists must celebrate and be happy in their works. The Fourth Symphony of Laszlo Lajtha 1892-1963 pronounced Lye-tuh is perhaps another such example, as evidenced especially in the finale and in the first half of the opening movement. In the early 1950' the Hungarian Communist government, at the behest of its Soviet bosses, began demanding that composers write less complex, more approachable and optimistic music. Lajtha must have felt the pressure, as he turned away from the grimness and dark emotions of the Third Symphony toward the buoyancy and folkish joy of the Fourth. It's not hard to speculate that this work was written to appease the Communist censors, since it came in a particularly depressing time in the composer's life, owing to his lack of a major position and ban on his travel abroad, a time when one might normally have expected doom-and-gloom music from his eager pen. The Fourth, forced joyous emotions or no, is a major work. While it may not quite rank with the greatest symphonies of the century, it is nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable and superior to the several lesser symphonies of Shostakovich, for example. Speaking of Shostakovich, the first movement of the "Spring Symphony" invokes that composer's Ninth and Fifteenth Symphonies, especially their lighthearted and colorful first movements. The Allegretto second movement sounds utterly Hungarian, featuring a theme similar to the alternate theme in the fourth movement of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Both must have come from the same Hungarian folk source. The finale is joyous and jubilantly raucous. By the way, the Hungarian Communist cultural czars turned thumbs down on this work, hearing negative Western influences in it--translation: despite its rather direct expressive language and folk-like character, it still sounded a bit too modern for their leftist-extremist, we're-looking-out-for-the-good-of-the-people ears. But Lajtha was lucky--he was never arrested for his imagined artistic sins, as were many other artists. The Third Symphony is derived from music Lajtha composed for the film version of T. S. Elliot's Murder in the Cathedral. The idiom here is darker, menacing, deeper than that of the Fourth. It opens with the most sinister-sounding clarinet solo I've ever heard. The music hardly lightens as the movement progresses, seeming the Hyde side of its older sibling. The second and last movement continues the generally grim mood, though greater color is present throughout, here and there invoking folk images, but hallucinatory folk images, in no way benign as in the succeeding symphony. Again, we have a work whose excellence begs greater notice. I'm not sure which of these two symphonies achieves a higher level of artistic expression. The "Spring" is more appealing, deftly joyous; the Third is darker, more profound. Both are indispensable to twentieth-century enthusiasts. The Suite No. 2 is based on Lajtha's unperformed ballet, "The Grove of Four Gods." The music is light and enjoyable, making a fine filler here. The Pecs Symphony Orchestra performs splendidly under the knowing baton of Nicolas Pasquet, capturing the folk elements and drama with idiomatic rightness and impressive virtuosity. Marco Polo provides excellent sound and good notes. To those unfamiliar with the music of Lajtha, they will mostly be pleased by this disc. Strongly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/8/1997
  • Label: Marco Polo
  • UPC: 730099367127
  • Catalog Number: 223671

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Symphony, No 4, Op 52 ("Le Printemps") - László Lajtha & Orchestre Symphonique de Pécs
    Composed byLászló Lajtha
    Conducted byNicolas Pasquet
    Performed byOrchestre Symphonique de Pécs, Nicolas Pasquet
  2. 2 Suite No 2 for orchestra, Op 38 - László Lajtha & Orchestre Symphonique de Pécs
    Composed byLászló Lajtha
    Conducted byNicolas Pasquet
    Performed byOrchestre Symphonique de Pécs, Nicolas Pasquet
  3. 3 Symphony No. 3, Op 45 - László Lajtha & Orchestre Symphonique de Pécs
    Composed byLászló Lajtha
    Conducted byNicolas Pasquet
    Performed byOrchestre Symphonique de Pécs, Nicolas Pasquet
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Nicolas Pasquet Primary Artist
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