Markevitch: Complete Orchestral Music, Vol.1

Markevitch: Complete Orchestral Music, Vol.1

by Christopher Lyndon-Gee
     
 

One of the most important discoveries the label Marco Polo has made in its voyage as "the label of discovery" is the long forgotten orchestral music of conductor Igor Markevitch. Self-styled as the last discovery of impresario Sergei Diaghilev and married to the daughter of dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, Markevitch continued the 1920s-era modernist style set forth by… See more details below

Overview

One of the most important discoveries the label Marco Polo has made in its voyage as "the label of discovery" is the long forgotten orchestral music of conductor Igor Markevitch. Self-styled as the last discovery of impresario Sergei Diaghilev and married to the daughter of dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, Markevitch continued the 1920s-era modernist style set forth by composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Honegger, and Varèse into the 1930s when Stravinsky and Prokofiev had moved into neo-classicism, Honegger into the movies, and Varèse into his long, self-imposed silence as a composer. Well before Varèse finally picked up the ball again, Markevitch was trapped in a compositional silence of his own, one that would last the rest of his life. Igor Markevitch: Complete Orchestral Works, Vol. 1, contains what may well be Markevitch's most intense and personal orchestral statement, the symphonic poem "Le Nouvel Age" (1937). While not obviously a latter-day product of the Russian Futurist ethos -- already suppressed in the Soviet Union itself by 1937 -- the program devised for it by Markevitch reveals that this is definitely so. Originally planned as a cantata with a text by surrealist poet and provocateur Edward James, Markevitch was forced to scrap this concept when James attempted to make a move on Markevitch's wife and was permanently ejected from the household. The influx of personal passions in the background of what was intended as a steely, mechanistic work -- Markevitch had no qualms with James over his actions, but Mrs. Markevitch was furious and the issue dragged on for months -- takes "Le Nouvel Age" to a new level. While it began as a sort of pantheistic paean to an imagined future -- it bears some surface resemblance to Varèse's "Amèriques" -- "Le Nouvel Age" ended up being a kind of sounding board for Kyra Markevitch's deep-seated sense of betrayal. Premiered in Warsaw in 1938, it was Markevitch's greatest success as a composer, but with only a couple of notable exceptions, it appears the European music of the 1930s has largely been swept away by the currents of the unimaginably horrible history that followed. The "Sinfonietta in F" (1929) is an early work dating from Markevitch's association with Diaghilev and takes the form of a neo-classic work, but it isn't pithy or ingratiating; it's dark, intense, and dramatic. Likewise is the "Cinéma-Ouverture" (1931), written for a film starring Brigitte Helm that was never made -- Markevitch was fast friends with Sergei Eisenstein, though he turned down an offer to return to Russia to compose for Soviet cinema. It is rife with stubborn, repetitive cycles and contains sounds of auto horns and sirens in one passage. To utilize terminology perhaps a step down from the usual classical reviewer's arsenal of adjectives, it's cool. Conductor Christopher Lyndon-Gee delivers this volatile mixture with a lot of punch. It's a little quieter than perhaps it should be, but is completely clear and you can hear everything fine; just crank it up. This disc, originally released in 1997, was reissued in 2009 on Naxos as Volume 2 of its Markevitch series.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/05/1997
Label:
Marco Polo
UPC:
0730099365321
catalogNumber:
223653

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Le Nouvel Age, for orchestra: Overture  - Igor Markevitch  - Christopher Lyndon-Gee  -  Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra
  2. Sinfonietta in F major  - Igor Markevitch  - Christopher Lyndon-Gee  -  Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra
  3. Cinema Overture  - Igor Markevitch  - Christopher Lyndon-Gee  -  Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra

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