László Lajtha: Symphony No. 7; Suite No. 3; Hortobágy

László Lajtha: Symphony No. 7; Suite No. 3; Hortobágy

by Orchestre Symphonique de Pécs


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Hungarian composer László Lajtha was highly esteemed by Bartók, and his music was often played in the West. It was often played in Hungary, too, until Lajtha was deemed insufficiently supportive of the Communist cause after World War II. Things worsened substantially for Lajtha when he supported the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union in 1956, but the French continued to admire his essentially tonal and very Hungarian music. It's not clear to what extent the "Symphony No. 7," here subtitled the "Revolution Symphony," reflected the events of 1956; Lajtha himself said that it reflected ideas about the Hungarian experience that had been percolating in his mind for some years, and the subtitle seems to have been attached after the fact. One guess would be that the extremely concentrated, agonized first movement was the one written mostly after the Hungarian defeat. It's the best thing on the whole program, and the symphony as a whole comes close to being a Hungarian counterpart to Shostakovich. The other two works are not quite on this level, but both are listenable; the neoclassic "Suite No. 3, Op. 56," was not taken from a ballet, but might as well have been, and its exuberant finale is a pleasure. The excerpts from the film score "Hortobágy" may also remind of Shostakovich's work in this genre. Although Lajtha was an energetic collector of folk music, relatively little of it shows up in the music. The Pécs Symphony Orchestra under Nicolás Pasquet gives clean performances that capture the music's French-Hungarian élan, and at times its pain. Recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/14/2017
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313364770
catalogNumber: 8573647
Rank: 152679


  1. Symphony No. 7, Op. 63 ("Revolution Symphony")
  2. Hortob?gy, film score, Op.21
  3. Suite for orchestra No. 3, Op. 56

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László Lajtha: Symphony No. 7; Suite No. 3; Hortobágy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RGraves321 More than 1 year ago
Volume four of László Lajtha's orchestral series features but one symphony -- his seventh. In some way's the 1957 "Revolution Symphony" is one of Lajtha's most honest works (not that he was one to dissemble). Lajtha wrote it in reaction to the Soviet suppression of Hungary's revolution the year before. It's a dissonant, turbulent work that includes some big, heroic gestures. They reminded me somewhat of Shostakovich's fifth symphony. Unlike that work, though, Lajtha's symphony seems designed to provoke rather than appease. "La Marseilles" is obliquely referenced, and the piece ends with an altered form of the Hungarian National Hymn, a mordant commentary on the New Order. Nicolás Pasquet and the Pécs Symphony Orchestra seem to understand what Lajtha was trying to express. Their performance conveys a sense of urgency, as they breathlessly relate the birth and death of a revolution. And yet they also perform the quieter passages with restraint and sensitivity. The emotional intensity of the Revolution Symphony is lightened by the other works on the release. Lajtha's Suite No. 3 reminded me a little of Vaughan William's "The Wasps" Overture, mixed with a dash of Prokofiev's "Love of Three Oranges." Lajtha composed the work for the 100th anniversary of the Hungarian Philharmonic, and each section gets a turn in the spotlight. It's a beautifully orchestrated, light-hearted work that should really be performed more often. Lajtha extracted an orchestral suite from his score to "Life on the Hortobágy." This 1937 film depicts the destruction of the Hortobágy Plainsmen's traditional life by the arrival of mechanization. The suite effectively depicts that conflict by mixing traditional Hungarian folk elements with daring modern dissonances.