Alexander Moyzes Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 – Emotional Masterworks

This volume of Naxos’ Moyzes symphonic cycle includes two of his most emotional works. Moyzes was famous as a Slovak nationalist composer, blending folk music traditions seamlessly with classical forms.

His Symphony No. 7 is no exception. This substantial work was dedicated to the memory of his young daughter. It’s as full of sorrow and pathos as the title might suggest. But it also ends in joy and hope.

Folk elements are more obvious in this work than in other Moyzes symphonies. The opening flute melody evokes the sound of a shepherd’s pipe. The scherzo has traditional folk dance rhythms, as does the finale.

In 1968 Moyzes completed his eighth symphony, titled “21.08.1968.” The title refers to the date Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Soviet Union. If folk elements were near the surface in Symphony No. 7, here they’re buried deep. Moyzes musical language is harsh, dissonant, and angry. Like Shostakovich, he channels that anger with discipline. This three-movement work is a well-organized symphony, with themes and motives that build one upon the other.

Even without the political context, Symphony No. 8 works. Moyzes effectively communicates his emotions. And they’re ones we can relate to in any era.

Naxos originally released these recordings in 2000 on the Marco Polo label. The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra directed by Ladislav Slovák doesn’t sound dated at all. These aren’t audiophile recordings. But they are clear, and I could still hear plenty of detail in every track.

Alexander Moyzes: Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ladislav Slovák, conductor
Naxos 8.57653

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