Lajtha: Symphonies No. 4 and 9

Hungarian State and Chamber Orchestras, János Ferencsik, Vilmos Tátrai

Outside Hungary, László Lajtha (1892-1963) is an obscure composer, known primarily to classical-record geeks who already have collected music by the more famous Hungarians, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, but you don’t have to be a Hungarian-music specialist to really appreciate this disc. Lajtha’s Symphony No. 4, subtitled “Le printemps,” is bubbly, sunny music, full of color and wit. His many years spent studying in France led him to blend the influences of impressionist colors with Hungarian folk music. In this energetic symphony, you can smell the paprika. On the other hand, Symphony No. 9 is tragic music that strides with a bold, epic swagger, a modern take on the romantic symphony that achieves resolution through struggle. The disc concludes with Lajtha’s Sinfonietta for Strings.