Alexander Moyzes Symphonies 11 & 12 – fitting finales

This release completes Naxos’ reissue of Alexander Moyzes symphonies. Their sister label, Marco Polo, first released these recordings nineteen years ago. As I said in the reviews of the previous volumes, it’s good to have these works available again.

Ladislav Slovak and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra share the same cultural background as Moyzes. And that understanding informs their performances, enabling them to bring out some of the more subtle points of Moyzes’ writing.

That being said, these definitely aren’t audiophile recordings. Although I could hear a fair amount of detail, the overall sound of the ensemble seemed a little soft.

There’s nothing soft about the symphonies, though. Moyzes wrote in a mostly tonal style throughout his career and used it to great effect. Symphony No. 11 was completed in 1979. It was completed months after Symphony No. 10.

The two works share the same general structure and emotional themes. But this work seems to go further. The dissonances seem sharper, and the thematic material more tightly connected.

Moyzes’ Symphony No. 12 was completed in 1983, months before his death. Moyzes is economical in the use of his material, each note placed to telling effect. Here Moyzes isn’t as concerned about grand gestures as he is about stopping to take in the details. It’s a fitting finale to an extraordinary career.

Of course, I recommend all six volumes. But at the very least, invest in volumes 5 and 6. That way you can hear Symphonies 10 & 11 back-to-back. The comparison is revelatory.

Alexander Moyzes: Symphonies Nos. 11 and 12
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ladislav Slovak, conductor
Naxos 8.573655

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