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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Alban Berg - Altenberg-Lieder; Lulu-Suite (Juliane Banse; Claudio Abbado)


Composer: Alban Berg
  • (01-05) Altenberg-Lieder, Op. 4
  • (06-08) Drei Stücke aus der "Lyrischen Suite"
  • (09-13) "Lulu"-Suite

Juliane Banse, soprano (1-5, 11)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Date: 1996
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



It is obviously high time that Claudio Abbado recorded Lulu. His account of the suite is ravishingly beautiful, with a warmly poetic ardour to Alwa’s music that so few real-life singers can give it (the “Hymne”, too, is genuinely hymn-like). The concluding scene has a dark, passionate vehemence and pity that are deeply moving. Any suspicion that he might be over-beautifying the music (and there are hints of him doing just that in the opening movement of the Lyric Suite) is erased by the hectic, almost garish drama of the second movement ostinato and the sober gravity that both he and Juliane Banse bring to the “Lied der Lulu”.

Banse is admirable in the Altenberg Lieder, too: expressive, unhampered by the range of the vocal line, and bringing to the last song a wide-spanning lyricism that seems almost a foretaste of Geschwitz’s death-song in Lulu. Aside from what I hear as a slightly blunted edge, even a slight loss of wit, in its opening movement, the Lyric Suite has the same admirable combination of richness and orchestral detail as the Altenberg Lieder – in the central movement Abbado demonstrates that clarity and a marking of misterioso are not incompatible – and the third movement, as it should be, is the Suite’s emotional nub: the Vienna Philharmonic’s strings respond with glowing passion.

I can say no better of the recording than it sounds as though Abbado did his own balancing. Strongly recommended.

-- Michael Oliver, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Alban Berg (February 9, 1885 – December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer. Berg studied with Schoenberg for six years (1904-1911) and they remained close lifelong friends. Berg is remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century and to date is the most widely performed opera composer among the Second Viennese School. His compositions  combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. He is considered to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.


Juliane Banse (born July 10, 1969 in Tettnang, Germany) is a German opera soprano and noted Lieder singer. At 15 she began voice training with Paul Steiner, later to contuinue with Ruth Rohner of the Zurich Opera House. Enrolling in the Munich Musikhochschule, Banse studied with famed mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender and with Daphne Evangelatos. Banse's programs are noted for their variety, as she has recorded works by composers as diverse as Othmar Schoeck, Robert Schumann, Alban Berg, Johannes Brahms, and Antonin Dvorák, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mahler, and Debussy.


Claudio Abbado (26 June 1933 – 20 January 2014) was an Italian conductor. One of the most celebrated and respected conductors of the 20th century, he served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera, and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. Abbado performed a wide range of Romantic works and recorded extensively for a variety of labels.


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