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Steve Schwartz
Classical Net, September 2012

The ballet [L’envol d’Icare (the flight of Icarus)] contains remarkable music and unique sounds. The general idiom stems from Stravinsky, with at least one nod to Rite of Spring as well as to smaller pieces like Ragtime. Markevitch uses an orchestra with five instruments (flute, two violins, two cellos) deliberately tuned out a quarter step from the ensemble. Quarter-tones, promoted mainly by Czech composer and theorist Alois Hába, were big among the Twenties avant-garde. Even a relative conservative like Ernest Bloch used them. In my opinion, Markevitch made a most effective use. The emotion of the piece is intricately bound to the scordaturi. I can’t praise the music highly enough overall. This really is as revolutionary a work as Le sacre. This score is a powerhouse.

Lyndon-Gee and his merry Arnhem band play the bejabbers out of these pieces. One of the outstanding entries in Naxos’s Markevitch set. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

Bob Briggs
MusicWeb International, March 2010

It is only in the past fifteen or twenty years that Markevitch’s work as a composer has started being re-evaluated. One can see why he was so highly prized at the time he was composing. L’envol d’Icare, with its imaginative orchestral writing, very colourful palette of sound and wealth of memorable themes is a work one wants to hear again and again. This is an endlessly fascinating piece. Lyndon–Gee, who has done more than anyone to put Markevitch’s music back into circulation, has recorded seven CDs of Markevitch’s orchestral music. These are performances which are very good indeed. The present performance is very good, especially as the musicians cannot have known the music before the recording took place…The other two works on the disk are of lesser value and importance, but are no less enjoyable. Cantique d’Amour is a richly-layered piece, full of eastern promise and as erotic as you could wish. The Concerto Grosso is obviously neo-classical fun, and it shows much less of the composer than do the other two works…this disk is essential, as are the others in the series, for allowing us to get to know a major composer of the early part of the last century. Very good, clear, recording and excellent notes.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2009

Why Igor Markevitch, one of the most distinguished conductors of the 20th century, should have so assiduously ignored his own works is one of music’s great mysteries. He had spent his formative years in Switzerland studying the piano with his father, and as a precociously gifted teenage composer captured the attention of influential musicians, including the ballet impresario, Dyagilev. Then at age of twenty-nine he suffered a severe and never understood illness, and on his recovery moved to a life as a touring conductor and renounced the success his works had enjoyed, never again composing. This complete cycle of his orchestral works are the first time they have ever—apart from one brief work—appeared on disc. This third volume covers the period 1930 to 1936, and though we find passages incorporating an element of atonality, he was using tonality as the basic ingredient. The earliest work, the Concerto Grosso, comes from his eighteenth year, and I find a greater influence of Stravinsky than most commentators. Abstract in concept, it is in the form of two fast movements surrounding a slow and rather severe andante. L’Envol d’Icare (The Flight of Icarus), was his most highly regarded work, and was first planned for use as a ballet. It toys with quarter-tones and the unconventional use of instruments, the resulting colours being fascinating, though for those just coming to Markevitch, the Cantique d’Amour (Hymn of Love) is an ideal starting point, its mysterious quality coming from a mix of Ravel and Debussy. The Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra, under the advocacy of the conductor, Christopher Lyndon-Gee, are totally persuasive and hide so convincingly the fact that the music must have been previously unknown to them. The disc was first issued on Marco Polo as world première recordings and are in a reliable studio sound.

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