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Zemlinsky: Lyric Symphony, Preludes / Conlon


Release Date: 02/06/2007 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 72481   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexander von Zemlinsky
Performer:  Soile IsokoskiBoje Skovhus
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Conlon has given us an extremely valuable and rewarding disc."

ZEMLINSKY Lyric Symphony. 1 Sarema: Prelude. Es war einmal: Prelude; Interlude. Kleider machen Leute: Waltz-Intermezzo; Act II Interlude. Der Kreiderkreis: Act III Prelude. Der König Kandaules: Act III Prelude Read more class="BULLET12b">• James Conlon, cond; Soile Isokowski (sop); 1 Bo Skovhus (bar); 1 Cologne Gürzenich O EMI 72481 (78:17)


Conlon has been a major proponent of Zemlinsky’s music, in Europe and in the United States. From 1995 to 2001, he recorded 11 CDs of operas, symphonies, symphonic songs, orchestral, and choral music in Cologne for EMI. These pieces were among them, but that one disc somehow escaped Fanfare ’s attention; this reissue gives us a second chance. While all the EMI recordings were valuable—some remain unique representations of the music—Conlon has done better elsewhere. A few years back he led a glorious Die Seejungfrau with the New York Philharmonic, a performance on an entirely deeper level than the one from Cologne. The Cologne orchestra is not quite in the top rank, nor were those EMI recordings, which had a slightly glassy quality about them, possibly due to the acoustics of the Cologne Philharmonie.


The Lyric Symphony is Zemlinsky’s blockbuster, and most conductors treat it as such. Anthony Beaumont has pointed out that it needs to be played with great delicacy, but his own recording didn’t quite succeed. Christoph Eschenbach did, with Orchestre de Paris on a Capriccio hybrid SACD which sounds as fine on the CD layer as on SACD ( Fanfare 30:1). It also awoke in me the realization that Beaumont is right, and it cooled my admiration for the big-orchestra spectaculars: Chailly’s Concertgebouw on Decca and Sinopoli’s Vienna Philharmonic on DG. Conlon tries to have it both ways, which could be the answer, but again the orchestra and especially the recorded sound let him down. The fine vocal soloists (who sing one at a time, as in Das Lied von der Erde ) are pushed back into the sonic haze, turning the piece into a vocal symphony rather than the dramatic edifice it should be. There are no texts with this low-priced reissue.


This is the first selection of orchestral excerpts from Zemlinsky operas I have encountered. All eight operas have been recorded, some as many as three times. Six remain available; they are well worth acquiring, for Zemlinsky was a superbly dramatic composer who wrote beautifully for the voice—as his many gorgeous Lieder also attest. These excerpts give us the flavor of each opera. Sarema is a late-Romantic work, its Prelude thoroughly Wagnerian. Es war einmal (“Once upon a Time”) is a folk tale opera with freer, more imaginative music, performed and touched up by Mahler. Kleider machen Leute (“Clothes Make the Man”) is a musical comedy bordering on operetta. Der Kreiderkreis (“The Chalk Circle”) is a fascinating, complex drama in an oriental setting. Der König Kandaules is a lurid psycho-sexual thriller on a par with Salome , as its act III prelude demonstrates. Conlon has recorded the other three operas complete. These excerpts are especially welcome because some of the complete recordings are by small opera companies tied to mediocre orchestras: Es war einmal and Kleider machen Leute blossom as never before.


The program notes refer to 10 Zemlinsky operas, which sent me scurrying to Beaumont’s Zemlinsky , the now-standard biography. I find only “fragment,” “sketches,” and “ Circe , opera in three acts . . . act I complete in short score March 1939; act II incomplete.” I would be only too delighted to hear more Zemlinsky operas, complete or not.


Despite its shortcomings, Conlon has given us an extremely valuable and rewarding disc.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1. Lyric Symphony, Op. 18 by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Performer:  Soile Isokoski (Soprano), Boje Skovhus (Baritone)
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Austria 
2. Sarema: Act 1, Prelude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1895; Austria 
3. Es war einmal: Act 1 Prelude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Notes: Composition written: Vienna, Austria (1897 - 1899). 
4. Kleider machen Leute: Act 1, Walz-Intermezzo by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1908/1922; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Composition written: Vienna, Austria (Circa 1908 - Circa 1922). 
5. Kleider machen Leute: Act 2, Interlude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1908/1922; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Composition written: Vienna, Austria (Circa 1908 - Circa 1922). 
6. Der Kreidekreis: Act 3 Prelude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
7. Der König Kandaules: Act 3 Prelude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
8. Es war einmal: Act 1 Interlude by Alexander von Zemlinsky
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Notes: Composition written: Vienna, Austria (1897 - 1899). 

Sound Samples

Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.1 Ich bin friedlos (Bariton) - Langsam
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.2 Mutter, der junge Prinz (Sopran) - Lebhaft
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.3 Du bist die Abendwolke (Bariton) - Sehr ruhig u. mit innigem, ernstem Ausdruck
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.4 Sprich zu mir, Geliebter (Sopran) - Langsam
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.5 Befrei mich von den Banden (Bariton) - Feurig und kraftvoll
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.6 Vollende denn das letzte Lied (Sopran) - Sehr mäßige Viertel
Lyrische Symphonie in 7 Gesängen [aus der Gedichtsammlung "Der Gärtner"] op.18 (1922) · für Orchester, Sopran und Bariton: Nr.7 Friede, mein Herz (Bariton) - Molto adagio
Sarema · Oper in 3 Akten: Vorspiel (Live)
Es war einmal · Oper in 1 Vorspiel und 3 Akten: Vorspiel (1.Akt) (Live)
Es war einmal · Oper in 1 Vorspiel und 3 Akten: Zwischenspiel (1.Akt) (Live)
Kleider machen Leute · Oper in 1 Vorspiel und 3 Akten: Walzer-Intermezzo (1.Akt) (Live)
Kleider machen Leute · Oper in 1 Vorspiel und 3 Akten: Zwischenspiel (2.Akt) (Live)
Der Kreidekreis · Oper in 3 Akten: Vorspiel zum 3.Akt (Live)
Der König Kandaules · Oper in 3 Akten: Vorspiel zum 3.Akt (Live)

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