MEGA has deleted a lot of my files and it's hard for me to know which ones that need to be re-uploaded.
So, if you find an expired link and want a re-up, please leave a comment. Just not too many requests at once.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Allan Pettersson - Symphony No. 8 (Thomas Sanderling)


Information

Composer: Allan Pettersson
  1. Symphony No. 8: Part I
  2. Symphony No. 8: Part II

Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Thomas Sanderling, conductor
Date: 1984
Label: CPO


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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Alexander Zemlinsky - Die Seejungfrau; Sinfonietta (John Storgårds)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
  1. Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) (new critical version 2013): I. Sehr mässig bewegt
  2. Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) (new critical version 2013): II. Sehr bewegt, rauschend
  3. Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) (new critical version 2013): III. Sehr gedehnt, mit schmerzvollem Ausdruck
  4. Sinfonietta, Op. 23 (version for chamber orchestra by Roland Freisitzer): I. Sehr lebhaft
  5. Sinfonietta, Op. 23 (version for chamber orchestra by Roland Freisitzer): II. Ballade
  6. Sinfonietta, Op. 23 (version for chamber orchestra by Roland Freisitzer): III. Rondo

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor
Date: 2014
Label: Ondine
https://www.ondine.net/index.php?lid=en&cid=2.2&oid=5466

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Review

Zemlinsky’s Really Complete Mermaid Premiered

Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau has been recorded at least seven times, but this newcomer has some special qualities. It is without question the most gorgeously played and opulently engineered, which is saying a lot. After all, Chailly and the Concertgebouw (Decca) aren’t exactly slouches, and neither for that matter is Zemlinsky authority Antony Beaumont with the Czech Philharmonic (Chandos). It was Beaumont, in fact, who produced this new critical edition, restoring some five minutes of music to the central movement, including perhaps the work’s most convincing climax and interesting harmonies. So for that reason alone this performance, conducted by Storgards with 100% conviction and confidence, is worth having. 

The work itself remains problematic. Thematically it owes quite a bit to Tchaikovsky–Francesca da Rimini in its “motto” theme, and the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony elsewhere. Its three movements can very easily come off as relatively undifferentiated sonic blobs due to Zemlinsky’s habit of immediately resorting to lyrical noodling just as things start to get moving. Each part seems to end five or six times before it actually stops, with the loud closing bars of Part Two sounding especially gratuitous. But the music is so beautiful from moment to moment, and so brilliantly scored, that in a performance like this one the defects hardly matter. If you’re a fan of Seejungfrau, this is now the version to own, and if you aren’t a fan, this one might make you one.

As to the coupling, well, here’s a story. At least two other very good recordings of Seejungfrau come in tandem with the Sinfonietta–Dausgaard’s and Conlon’s. This version, though, is the premiere recording of a recent rescoring for chamber orchestra by one Roland Freisitzer. I am not going to accuse Freisitzer of parasitically attaching himself to the coattails of the great (like Anthony Paine, for example, with his abominable Elgar Third Symphony), because no one is making a living creating alternate versions of works by Zemlinsky. On the other hand, the justification offered for disfiguring a late masterpiece by claiming to make it more playable by chamber orchestras just won’t wash, for several reasons.

First of all, there’s plenty of great music already written for chamber orchestra. No one needs Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta any more than we need the recent silly, pint-sized arrangement of Mahler’s Second Symphony and other such curiosities–especially on recordings. Second, Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta is scored for a fairly modest ensemble as it is–basically only double winds and standard brass, with no tuba. Freisitzer eliminates the three percussion parts, but adds a piano, pointlessly. His choices beg the question of just what constitutes a “chamber orchestra.” After all, if the Tapiola Sinfonietta under Mario Venzago can play Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, then Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta certainly stands squarely within the realm of possibility. Finally, it seems singularly strange, not to say conceptually confused, to couple a carefully prepared critical edition of Seejungfrau with a mongrel deconstruction of the Sinfonietta. Do Zemlinsky’s own ideas matter or not? The scoring of the Sinfonietta, even more than with Seejungrau, constitutes one of the most telling and original aspects of the work. This was a bad idea, despite the fact that the arrangement is excellently played by Storgards and members of the Helsinki Phil.

So because the recording of Seejungrau is so terrific, and perfectly fine recordings of the Sinfonietta are not that hard to find (including Beaumont’s, differently coupled), I am going to base the rating for this release mostly on the former, and largely ignore the latter. Seejungfrau really is that good.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/zemlinsky-the-mermaid
http://www.classical-music.com/zemlinsky-orchestral-review-jun15
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/May/Zemlinsky_Seejungfrau_ODE12375.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/mar/12/zemlinsky-die-seejungfrau-sinfonietta-cd-review-helsinki-philharmonic
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zemlinsky-Storgards-Helsinki-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B00SVF1FBO

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

***
John Storgårds (born 20 October 1963 in Helsinki) is a Finnish violinist and conductor. He was Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2015. Storgårds was also Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2009. He has made a number of international recordings for Ondine, Sony and BIS Records
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Storg%C3%A5rds
http://www.johnstorgards.com/

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Alexander Zemlinsky - Lyric Symphony (Christoph Eschenbach)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
  1. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: I. Langsam (Grave) mit ernst-leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck
  2. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: II. Lebhaft
  3. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: III. Von hier ab plötzlich breiter und nach und nach immer ruhiger und langsamer
  4. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: IV. Langsam
  5. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: V. Feurig und kraftvoll
  6. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: VI. Sehr mäβige Viertel
  7. Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18: VII. Molto adagio (äußerst langsam und seelenvoll)

Christine Schäfer, soprano
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Orchestre de Paris
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Date: 2005
Label: Capriccio
http://www.capriccio.at/alexander-zemlinsky

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Review

Eschenbach gives a vivid, dramatic reading of this symphonic music-drama

There have been several memorable recordings of Zemlinsky’s masterpiece and this one, the first for many years, can be placed in their company. Christoph Eschenbach and his soloists clearly agree that the Lyric Symphony is not simply an orchestral song-cycle but a symphonic music-drama: the resulting performance has all the vividness and immediacy of a live event yet – equally importantly – excessive histrionics are avoided. This is music that needs no nudging or special pleading to exercise its power and poignancy.

Matthias Goerne has the combination of vocal heft and lyric mellifluousness necessary to sustain the demanding lines of the work’s four odd-numbered episodes. Perhaps the third section, with its particularly sumptuous orchestral backcloth, could have taken a degree or two more of sheer vocal refinement, but overall Goerne yields little in compelling characterisation to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (DG, 6/87 – nla), Bryn Terfel (DG, 12/96 – nla) or Håkan Hagegård (Decca,12/94 – nla), and he does full justice to the heart-rending finale.

Similarly, Christine Schäfer is a worthy successor to Julia Varady, Deborah Voigt and Alexandra Marc. She is especially convincing in the dramatic final stages of the second movement, and also in the expressionistic sixth. Ideally, the fourth movement’s gentle lover’s plea might be even more rapt, more other-worldly than it is here. But this reading fits well with the interpretation as a whole. The voices are forwardly placed without loss of orchestral detail, and only in the brief, turbulent fifth movement did I feel that the instrumental sound needed more edge. Even so, the orchestral playing throughout is superb.

-- Arnold Whittall, Gramophone

More reviews:
MusicWeb International RECORDING OF THE MONTH
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/4h3n
http://www.amazon.com/Lyrische-Symphonie-Op-18-Lyric-Symphony/dp/B000EBEJ70

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

***

Christoph Eschenbach (born February 20, 1940) is a German-born pianist and conductor. He is currently music director of both the National Symphony Orchestra and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Eschenbach has made more than 80 recordings as piano soloist, conductor, or both. From 2000 to 2010, Eschenbach was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris.

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Alexander Zemlinsky - Sinfonietta; Symphony in B flat major (Antony Beaumont)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
  1. Symphony in B flat major: I. Sostenuto - Allegro (schnell, mit Feuer und Kraft)
  2. Symphony in B flat major: II. Nicht zu schnell (Scherzando)
  3. Symphony in B flat major: III. Adagio
  4. Symphony in B flat major: IV. Moderato
  5. Prelude to "Es war einmal ..." (original version, 1899)
  6. Sinfonietta, Op. 23: I. Sehr lebhaft (Presto die Viertel), ganze Takte
  7. Sinfonietta, Op. 23: II. Ballade. Sehr gemessen (poco adagio), doch nicht schleppend
  8. Sinfonietta, Op. 23: III. Rondo. Sehr lebhaft
  9. Prelude to Act III of "Der König Kandaules" (orchestrated by Antony Beaumont)

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Antony Beaumont, conductor
Date: 2004
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%2010204

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Review

The 26-year-old Zemlinsky wrote this symphony in 1897; it won Vienna’s most important prize, which tells us that it conformed to standards and met expectations. Here is a brilliant student imitating his masters: Dvo?ák in the opening Sostenuto-Allegro, the Scherzo, and the first half of the Adagio, when Siegfried arrives with his horn call. In a confused finale, the variations from Brahms Fourth go awry. The orchestration is predictably fine but has not yet the shining elegance that would consistently flow from his pen in the years to follow. Despite its lack of originality, the work is so tuneful, so vigorous, and so well written that it comes close to being a first-rate symphony, at least until the finale. Riccardo Chailly, James Conlon, and now Antony Beaumont, Zemlinsky mavens all, have contributed sterling performances on disc. Chailly is the lightest, giving an István Kertész-like performance; Conlon is heavy and dark; Beaumont is forceful and dynamic, in the spirit of Rafael Kubelík. All three orchestras are superb, but Beaumont’s Czech Philharmonic, with its colorful, rustic-sounding winds, is the best; it certainly emphasizes the Dvo?ák connection. Conlon omits the exposition repeat, which doesn’t matter much in this huge, rich opening movement. Chailly eases the awkwardness of the finale by bulldozing his way through it, but at the cost of making it sound even more pompous. Conlon tiptoes through it, as if trying to hide the music’s weakness. Beaumont plays it straight, warts and all, allowing us to hear what Zemlinsky was trying to do.

This Chandos recording, set down by Nimbus in 2001 for that now-defunct label, is glorious, capturing the unusual acoustics of Prague’s Rudolfinum, warm yet with a dryness that prevents the smudging of details. Chailly’s Decca recording is in that company’s classic mode, sweet and reverberant, so lovely that one forgives its lack of detail. Conlon’s EMI recording is equally reverberant, with fewer mitigating virtues. EMI gives us the 1892 D-Minor Symphony on the same disc; Decca’s coupling is Zemlinsky’s Psalm 23. Beaumont has recorded the earlier symphony twice, most recently with the Czech Philharmonic on a Chandos CD/SACD pair of discs. Three Chandos CDs, or three EMI, will bring you Zemlinsky’s five major symphonic works: the two early symphonies, the Lyric Symphony, the Sinfonietta, and the symphonic poem The Mermaid.

So, a treasurable disc already, but there’s another half hour to come! The 1899 Prelude to the opera Es war einmal represents the mature Zemlinsky, now his own man, and has the fine polish that makes his orchestral sound so unique. This recording is the first to restore a huge cut—roughly a third of the score—made by Mahler for the opera’s Vienna premiere.

With the Sinfonietta we jump to 1934 and a 62-year-old composer. In place of expansive Romantic gestures, we now find agitated nervous energy in the Presto opening, searing anguish in a somber Ballade, and a Rondo finale that recalls the opening. The writing is taut and virtuosic, the scoring brilliant. This is his orchestral masterpiece, free from the imitative padding of the early symphonies and the longueurs of the highly regarded Lyric Symphony. The Presto is so filled with Erich Korngold’s musical monogram (which, according to Beaumont, the young student may have found in his teacher’s Kleider machen Leute) that it sounds as close to Korngold as to Zemlinsky. Beaumont plays the Sinfonietta much faster than Conlon (18:37 to 22:35), although without the “scorching intensity” (Beaumont) of Mitropoulos’s 1940–41 performances with the New York Philharmonic, which took about 16 minutes.

Zemlinsky was at his peak in the mid 1930s; his great opera Der Kreiderkreis preceded the Sinfonietta by a year, and Der König Kandaules followed in 1936. The orchestration for this final opera—rejected by the Metropolitan in 1938 because it includes a nude scene—was completed by Beaumont, and this Prelude to act III demonstrates what a superb job he did. Dark, threatening music, a portent of the tragedy about to evolve on stage, it has a dramatic power unusual even for Zemlinsky. Once again the playing of the great Czech orchestra is stupendous, and the 2003 Chandos recording immense.

Beaumont’s program notes are authoritative and revealing: it was Zemlinsky’s widow Louise who specified that the symphonies be identified by key signature rather by number, to avoid confusions caused by an incomplete 1891 work. Although you can’t go wrong with any of the discs discussed above, this may be the best of them all.

-- James H. North, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/zemlinsky-symphony-sinfonietta-prelude-to-es-war-einmal
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Nov01/Zemlinsky.htm

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

***

Antony Beaumont (born 1949 in London) is an English and German musicologist, writer, conductor and violinist. As a conductor, he has specialized in German music from the first half of the 20th century, including works by Zemlinsky, Weill, and Gurlitt. As a musicologist, he has published books on Busoni, Zemlinsky, and Mahler.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Beaumont
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/antony-beaumont-mn0001929856

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Alexander Zemlinsky - Die Seejungfrau; Symphony in D minor (Antony Beaumont)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
  1. Die Seejungfrau: I. Sehr mäßig bewegt
  2. Die Seejungfrau: II. Sehr bewegt, rauschend
  3. Die Seejungfrau: III. Sehr gedehnt, mit schmerzvollem Ausdruck
  4. Symphony in D minor: I. Allegro ma non troppo
  5. Symphony in D minor: II. Scherzo. Allegro scherzando - Trio. Viel ruhiger
  6. Symphony in D minor: III. Sehr innig und breit - Sehr bewegt - Tempo I
  7. Symphony in D minor: IV. Finale. Moderato

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Antony Beaumont, conductor
Date: 2003
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%2010138

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Review

Since its re-discovery in 1984, Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) has been quite popular in both the concert hall and the recording studio (five recordings are listed in the R.E.D. Classical Catalogue) and this is the second recording of it released by Chandos. The first was, in 1997, by the Danish National Radio Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard on CHAN 9601.

The notes for these two Chandos recordings (for the new recording by its conductor, Antony Beaumont who has published a study of Zemlinsky and Paul Banks for the Danish recording) provide conflicting facts. Banks states that ‘Zemlinsky was so taken aback by the coolness of the audience’s response that he withdrew his piece and it remained unheard (indeed it was considered ‘lost’) until 1984. Whereas Beaumont comments, "On 25 January, 1905, Die Seejungfrau shared the stage with Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisande. Zemlinsky’s score was applauded vociferously; Schoenberg’s played to an accompaniment of jeers and catcalls. After two further performances of Die Seejungfrau (in Prague and Berlin) the score disappeared from the repertoire, not to be heard again until 1984. Pelleas und Melisande lived on to be hailed as a masterpiece."

Whatever, little wonder that Zemlinsky’s Fantasy for Orchestra is so popular now, for it is a very attractive and accessible composition, extraordinarily evocative, wonderfully tuneful - and it is quite clear who influenced Korngold’s use of luscious orchestration.

Zemlinsky started work on the composition a few days before the wedding of the woman he loved, Alma Schindler to Gustav Mahler. Zemlinsky was devastated and it took years for him to recover from the blow. Clearly, The Mermaid’s story of rejected love had profound autobiographical significance for Zemlinsky at this time and he confided in Schoenberg that the work was actually a preliminary study for a projected ‘Symphony of Death’ that was never written. The composition is based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson. On the seabed the mermaid becomes obsessed with the notion of becoming immortal by winning the love of a mortal. After she has saved the life of a prince from a shipwreck, she takes a magic potion to enable her to take human form in order to win the prince. But he marries a princess. Devastated, in her agony, she plans to kill the prince in his sleep but at the last moment she throws away her knife and ends her tormented life. In her renunciation she achieves the immortality she longs for as a spirit of the air.

In realising the story, Zemlinsky uses a large orchestra. It has all the heroic and romantic hallmarks of a great Late Romantic symphony – in fact Beaumont argues that it ‘qualifies today for nomination as a symphony.’ The obvious influence is Richard Strauss but there is also something of Tchaikovsky – in fact one of the motifs is very like one Tchaikovsky used in the second movement of his Fifth Symphony. There is atmospheric material for the opening scene on the seabed, powerfully evocative music for the storm that shipwrecks the prince, erotic, voluptuous, perfumed music for the mermaid’s dreaming of love and immortality and of yearning and sweet devotion for her unresponsive prince.

Both Chandos recordings are impressive. Antony Beaumont goes for the dramatic high ground pressing the music forward more strongly clipping some three minutes off the Danish recording. I prefer, however, the more relaxed pace, more detailed, more poetic reading of Dausgaard. Funnily enough, to my ears Dausgaard sounds faster, it is probably all a matter of pulse.

Zemlinsky’s early Symphony in D minor is a lesser work. Very Brahmsian, its opening movement is heroic and virile. I think that Beaumont is being unkind in suggesting, here, that Zemlinsky ‘takes refuge in histrionics’. I would prefer to say that it has its excitements. The scherzo second movement is a perky and merry creation with Schubertian lyricism in its associated Trio. The introspective, rather Brucknerian third movement is the most interesting while the work is rounded off by a sunny, melodic Finale.

I should add that the Dausgaard recording has the more interesting fill-ups: Zemlinsky’s mature, more hard-edged, darkly lyrical Sinfonietta (1938); and his Overture to his first opera, the Wagner-influenced Sarema (1897).

This is the second Chandos recording of the attractive, richly romantic Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid). Although it is powerful enough, I prefer their original 1997 recording, the more relaxed, more poetic, yet exciting view of Dausgaard

-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/dec/05/classicalmusicandopera.shopping1
http://www.amazon.com/Symphony-D-Minor-Die-Seejungfrau/dp/B0000VM3YU

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

***

Antony Beaumont (born 1949 in London) is an English and German musicologist, writer, conductor and violinist. As a conductor, he has specialized in German music from the first half of the 20th century, including works by Zemlinsky, Weill, and Gurlitt. As a musicologist, he has published books on Busoni, Zemlinsky, and Mahler.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Beaumont
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/antony-beaumont-mn0001929856

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Alexander Zemlinsky - Lyric Symphony; Cymbeline (Antony Beaumont)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
  1. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: I. Ich bin friedlos. Langsam mit ernst-leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck -
  2. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: II. Mutter, der junge Prinz. Lebhaft -
  3. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: III. Du bist die Abendwolke. Adagio -
  4. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: IV. Sprich zu mir, Geliebter. Langsam -
  5. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: V. Befrei' mich von den Branden. Feurig und kraftvoll -
  6. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: VI. Vollende denn das letzte Lied. Sehr mäßige Viertel -
  7. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18: VII. Friede, mein Herz. Molto adagio
  8. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Prelude. Kraftvoll und mäßig bewegt
  9. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Imogen and Pisanio (Introduction to Act I, Scene 3). Sehr langsam -
  10. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Tempo (Sehr langsam) [also closing music for Act I, Scene 3]
  11. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Song (Act II, Scene 3): 'Horch, horch! Die Lerche'. Leicht bewegt und zart
  12. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Opening of Act III. Mäßig bewegt
  13. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Introduction to Act IV. Mäßig, nicht schleppend
  14. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Solemn music (Act IV, Scene 2). Mäßig, nicht schleppend
  15. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Song (Act IV, Scene 2): 'Scheust nicht mehr der Sonne Glühn'. Langsam gehend
  16. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Closing music for Act IV [Langsam gehend]
  17. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Introduction to Act V. Energisch bewegt
  18. Incidental music to Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": Melodrama (Act V, Scene 4): 'Nicht länger kühle, Donnergott'. Mäßige Viertel

Turid Karlsen, soprano (1-7)
Franz Grundheber, baritone (1-7)
Jaroslav Březina, tenor (8-18)
Members of Bremen Shakespeare Company (8-18)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Antony Beaumont, conductor
Date: 2003
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%2010069

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Review

PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****

Alexander Zemlinsky admitted that Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde was the model for his Lyric Symphony, composed in 1921. It shares an oriental poetic basis – here verses from Rabindranath Tagore’s The Gardener – and a sequential form of songs divided between two singers. But where Mahler explores the end of life, Zemlinsky’s symphony explores the end of love, charting a romance so intoxicating that it forces its protagonists apart. With Chailly’s version long unavailable, the benchmark is Sinopoli’s opulently recorded DG account with Deborah Voigt and Bryn Terfel and, though it has its strengths, this new Chandos recording doesn’t quite topple either. One main point of interest is Antony Beaumont’s use of his new edition of the score, though the variants are chiefly in the minutiae. The Norwegian soprano Turid Karlsen is particularly beguiling – most definitely matching Zemlinsky’s ideal of a ‘jugendlich-dramatisch’ vocal character. German baritone Franz Grundheber is less satisfactory: although he has made many distinguished opera recordings in the past, here his voice has developed a slight wobble and, though his communication of the words is exemplary, his tone isn’t as rich as Terfel’s. Zemlinsky’s full-on, late-Romantic sound-world comes up especially well in the Czech Philharmonic’s playing, warmly recorded in the Prague Rudolfinum. There’s no denying Beaumont’s unique authority in this music – the emotional shape from hope to love to loss is as moving as it has ever been. The fascinating coupling is the first recording for a set of incidental music Zemlinsky composed in 1913-15 for a typically over-the-top Shakespeare production by Max Reinhardt – though the outbreak of war and the British setting of Cymbeline meant it never saw the light of day in the theatre. A troupe of actors from Bremen sensitively intone some of the Bard’s words in German, and there’s a touching contribution from tenor Jaroslav Bšezina.

-- Matthew Rye, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/May03/Zemlinsky_Beaumont.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/apr/25/classicalmusicandopera.artsfeatures1
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-9372

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

***

Antony Beaumont (born 1949 in London) is an English and German musicologist, writer, conductor and violinist. As a conductor, he has specialized in German music from the first half of the 20th century, including works by Zemlinsky, Weill, and Gurlitt. As a musicologist, he has published books on Busoni, Zemlinsky, and Mahler.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Beaumont
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/antony-beaumont-mn0001929856

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Alexander Zemlinsky - Orchestral Works (James Conlon)


Information

Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky

CD1:
  • (01-03) Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid)
  • (04-06) Sinfonietta, Op. 23

CD2:
  • (01-07) Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18
  • (08) Sarema, opera: Prelude
  • (09) Es war einmal, opera: Prelude to Act 1
  • (10) Es war einmal, opera: Interlude from Act 1
  • (11) Kleider machen Leute, comic opera: Valse-Interlude from Act 1
  • (12) Kleider machen Leute, comic opera: Interlude from Act 2
  • (13) Der Kreidekreis, opera: Prelude to Act 3
  • (14) König Kandaules, opera: Prelude to Act 3
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Bo Skovhus, baritone

CD3:
  • (01-05) Cymbeline, suite from incidental music
  • (06-12) Frühlingsbegräbnis, cantata
  • (13-16) Ein Tanzpoem, ballet
Deborah Voigt, soprano
Donnie Ray Albert, tenor
David Kuebler, tenor
Chor der Städtischer Musikverein zu Düsseldorf

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
James Conlon, conductor
Date: 1995 (CD1), 1997 (CD3), 2001 (CD2)
Label: EMI

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Review

Very often the first recording you hear of a work new to you leaves such an impression that it “imprints” on you, making it hard to appreciate different new interpretations. James Conlon was an early champion of Zemlinsky’s music, and for many years, his work dominated the market. It was interesting to revisit Conlon after the many new recordings that have come along since the huge revival of interest in this composer has sharpened the whole way we listen.

Conlon wasn’t the only Zemlinsky champion. Riccardo Chailly’s series for Decca may not have gained as much market saturation, but although not as widely encompassing it’s definitely worth seeking out. Chailly’s version of Die Seejungfrau was recorded some nine years before Conlon’s, but seems timeless, because Chailly and the Berlin Radio Orchestra are more refined, getting closer to the complexities in Zemlinsky’s music. Refinement is important in Zemlinsky’s lush, fin-de–siècle idiom. Die Seejungfrau, written in 1903 was the composer’s take on the splendours of the very late Romantic. It’s a fairy tale, after all, albeit gruesome, and needs a light, magical touch, so the delicate textures can breathe. Conlon plays up the obvious pictorial aspects of the piece enthusiastically, but there’s more to this music than there is in this fairly straightforward recording. In 2005, he conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra in this piece at the Proms (see review) with much more clarity and emotional charge. The Gürzenich Orchestra, is good - they played with Mahler no less - so perhaps Conlon brought to the Proms performance the benefit of several more years of “living with” the music.

Another great Zemlinsky performer and perhaps the Zemlinsky authority par excellence is Anthony Beaumont. He is so attuned to the composer’s idiom that anything he does is worth listening to, whoever he may be working with. Beaumont’s recording, with the Czech Philharmonic is livelier though Conlon’s approach moves with an expansive sweep. 

For a long time, Chailly’s Lyrische Symphony, with Alessandra Marc and Hagegård was one to get. Because I’m fond of Dorothy Dorow, I also like the early Gabriele Ferro recording where she sings – magnificently if somewhat over the top – with Sigmund Nimsgern. Beaumont’s recording is orchestrally lucid but suffers from indifferent singing, a fatal weakness in a work so demanding of singers. Beaumont, however, uses a new edition of the score where inconsistencies and errors are cleaned up, liberating the music so to speak. Thus Eschenbach’s recording truly was groundbreaking, building upon Beaumont’s scholarship and insight. The Orchestre de Paris gives Eschenbach such beautifully refined, clear colours that they prove what Beaumont meant when he said “In performance, the score requires Mozartean grace and precision. For all its abandon, this music reveals its true beauty only when performed with discipline and cool-headed restraint”. The symphony shines with Eschenbach, and his singers, Schäfer and Goerne are utterly unequalled. Conlon has the excellent Soile Isokoski, but she alone isn’t enough to rescue this recording from leaden fussiness in the orchestral playing. As Beaumont also said “often the singers are engulfed in a dark forest of orchestral filigree work”. He wasn’t referring to Conlon’s recording which was made long after Beaumont published his commentary, but it describes it uncomfortably closely. The Lyric Symphony may dwell on erotic love and sumptuous exoticism, but its aim is liberation of the spirit. If a performance is earthbound, it misses the point completely. The Eschenbach recording is so good that it’s one of my Desert Island Discs (please see review). Poor Conlon is no competition.

For the Cymbeline Suite, Beaumont is again the comparison, This is another fairy tale, this time from Shakespeare, so again diaphanous textures are a good idea, but Conlon’s dream-like leisureliness isn’t inappropriate – the plot does, after all involve potions that numb the senses! This allows Conlon to dwell on the rococo that has for so long dominated Zemlinsky’s image. But the composer is no “lesser Wagner”, as Frühlingsbegräbnis demonstrates. This piece is contemporary with Hugo Wolf’s ventures into the genre. Where Conlon does score well is in these early pieces, before Zemlinsky’s style takes on a more complex edge. Thus Tanzpoem waltzes along gracefully, culminating in a coda that’s pure Hollywood. 

This release is a 3 CD set reissue of previously released recordings. Anyone familiar with Zemlinsky will already have the originals, while new listeners are advised to seek out alternatives. It’s priced very low, which should appeal to those wanting a complete set of Zemlinsky recordings, since Conlon is, after all, important to the genre. Others might want to spend a bit more and get other recordings: in the long term what makes something cheap isn’t the initial price but how much high value listening you get.

-- Anne Ozorio, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2009/Aug09/Zemlinsky_5094562.htm

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Alexander Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871, Vienna – March 15, 1942, Larchmont, New York) was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher. Zemlinsky's best-known work is the Lyric Symphony, which Zemlinsky compared in a letter to his publisher to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. As a conductor, Zemlinsky was admired by, among others, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. As a teacher, his pupils included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krása and Karl Weigl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky

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James Conlon (born March 18, 1950) is an American conductor of opera, and symphonic and choral works. He is Music Director of Los Angeles Opera, Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Cincinnati May Festival. A champion of the works of Alexander Zemlinsky, he has made nine recordings of the composer's operas and orchestral works with the Gürzenich Orchestra-Cologne Philharmonic for EMI.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Conlon
http://www.jamesconlon.com/

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