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Reznicek Symphonies nos 2 & 5
Berne Symphony Orchestra/Frank Beermann

Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860 - 1945), something of a musical prankster, is now best known for the Overture to Donna Diana which became a curse to him for its popularity, as did the Prelude in C# minor for Rachmaninoff.

Reznicek wrote his compact Symphony no 2 in B flat major "Ironic" in 1904 and I don't understand why it hasn't retained its early popularity. It is an affectionate tribute to Strauss and Mahler, amongst many reminders of other romantic composers, but the amalgam is a personal one which we have enjoyed listening to twice, the second time with the helpful notes of E v d Hoogen which take you through the music with timings of the events for easy reference. As Weingartner, Reznicek's 'sometime brother-in-law and advocate' says, "reminiscence hunters will find everything they are looking for and more". But this is far from plagiarism, and the music sparkles as it takes its often unpredictable course.

Vividly performed and recorded by the Swiss orchestra, this is something to raise spirits. No 5, the "Dance Symphony" (1924) had its 'real premiere' when staged in 1927. More expansive and expertly structured and orchestrated, it is not quite so original as its companion here, but taken together this is a CD which will bring great enjoyment. The compendious notes (6 tightly packed pages translated in 3 languages) are printed on thin paper to cram them into the jewel case.

© Peter Grahame Woolf