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Steve Schwartz
Classical Net, September 2012

In four movements, the Sinfonietta, the finale of which Markevitch played for Diaghilev, announced a new kid in town, from the fanfares of the very first movement. The music shows affinities with Milhaud in its fondness not only for polytonality, but for polyrhythms. The piece overall comes across like the work of a very smart kid having the time of his life showing off.

[In] Le Nouvel Âge…The score has three movements: “Ouverture,” “Adagio,” and “Hymne.” After a brief, quiet opening of strings in octaves, the orchestra erupts with a hymn to the Machine Age…with works like Honegger’s Pacific 231, Antheil's Ballet Mécanique, Prokofieff’s Le pas d’acier, and Mosolov’s Iron Foundry. The mechanistic riffs—thuds from the bass drum, the snares’ taradiddles, the blaring brass—of the Sinfonietta and the Cinéma-Ouverture achieve their greatest expressive power in a Markevitch score. For me, the Adagio counts as the most extraordinary movement, achieving an intense, hypnotic near-glacial movement. The “Hymne” begins as another paean to the Jazz Age but slows to the music of the Adagio. The trumpets and percussion at high blast burst in again, and after a passage of many competing rhythms, the piece ends on a blaring “jazz” seventh.

This entry stands among the strongest of Naxos’s seven-volume Markevitch series. As always, Lyndon-Gee and the Arnhemers play with dedication and spirit. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2009

If Igor Markevitch is only remembered as a distinguished conductor, it will have a bitter irony, as it came about by a strange illness that deprived us of one of the 20th century’s most gifted composers. Fleeing Russia with his musical parents in 1914, Igor spent his formative years in Switzerland studying piano with his father. A precociously gifted teenage composer, it was the famed impresario, Dyagilev, who, with the help of his celebrated dance company, Ballets Russes, launched Markevitch’s works onto the international scene. A new musical voice to complement Prokofiev and Stravinsky had been born, but when at the age of twenty-nine he suffered this strange illness, it left him in such a mental state that he renounced his music. Through his years as a conductor, he continued to ignore it, though he championed the contemporary music scene. It was the Marco Polo label that eventually pointed out all we had been missing, and those landmark recordings are now being reissued at budget price. Le Nouvel Age started life as an opera-oratorio to a text from Edward James, but after James tried to seduce Markevitch’s wife, the collaboration ended and the music was fashioned into a three movement symphonic poem, that was often aggressive and always brilliantly scored. He was sixteen when he began work on the four-movement Sinfonietta, the score that introduced him to Dyagilev. It was, by any standards, an audacious piece for one so young, the final Allegro risoluto as hard-hitting as anything composed in the 1920s. Cinema-Ouverture dates from 1930 with the world gripped in the cinematograph age. It was forgotten until 1995 when the present performers gave its premiere, and few orchestras could offer such deeply committed performances with a dedicated advocate in the conductor, Christopher Lyndon-Gee.

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