Treat of the week: Kirill Petrenko conducts Zemlinsky

Treat of the week: Kirill Petrenko conducts Zemlinsky


norman lebrecht

May 05, 2018

The Lyric Symphony is Zemlinsky’s homage to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.

Who knew this rapturous performance was lurking on Loot-tube?

The vocal soloists are Maria Bengtsson and Bo Skovhus.


  • barry guerrero says:

    It’s an interesting work. I’m not sure if it was really an homage to Mahler. According to Universal Edition, Zemlinsky said, “I have written something this summer like Das Lied von der Erde”. Maybe that’s splitting hairs.

    I always wonder if Alma Schindler would have become a truly important composer if she hadn’t agreed to Mahler’s draconian terms for marriage (but not unusual for those days) and kept studying with Zemlinsky instead.

    I can’t offer an opinion as to how this performance stacks up against the competition. It seems pretty good to me.

  • barry guerrero says:

    I wanted to mention that Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite” was genuinely inspired by Zemlinsky’s “Lyric Symphony”. Berg really loved this work – or so he claimed.

  • James says:

    It appears that Mahler priests would have us believe that he
    influenced every composer in history, with the possible
    exception of Vivaldi, don’t ask me why he is spared.

    No matter how ludicrous the claims, the Mahler Industry knows not defeat.

    • mr oakmountain says:

      The Connection Mahler – Zemlinsky is pretty straight forward. Incidentally, Gustav Mahler told Julius Korngold to send his then very young son Erich Wolfgang to Zemlinsky for lessons, so there is another link. EWK saind his best orchestration lessons were watching Zemlinsky orchestrate “Der Schneemann”.

  • barry guerrero says:

    I don’t care for Vivaldi. I do like Mahler’s music. I would never claim that Mahler influenced Vivaldi. How would that be possible? More to the point, I don’t preach that the ‘Vivaldi industry’ should go take a hike. Really, what’s the point here?

    I think it’s indisputable that Mahler had a pretty profound impact upon both Shostakovich and Alban Berg. Some say that R. Strauss wrote “Alpine Symphony” as a response to Mahler’s death.

    • Tamino says:

      Who says that? The conception of Alpine Symphony dates back to 1900.
      No, what Strauss said when Mahler died indicates a correlation to the creation of his Alpine Symphony, but nothing like causation can be constructed out of that.

      R.Strauss: “The death of this aspiring, idealistic, energetic artist [is] a grave loss … Mahler, the Jew, could achieve elevation in Christianity. As an old man the hero Wagner returned to it under the influence of Schopenhauer. It is clear to me that the German nation will achieve new creative energy only by liberating itself from Christianity … I shall call my alpine symphony: Der Antichrist, since it represents: moral purification through one’s own strength, liberation through work, worship of eternal, magnificent nature.”

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I shouldn’t even try to dignify such ridiculous comments, but I don’t know of a single Mahler enthusiast or author who would claim that Mahler had any influence upon such great 20th Century ‘heavy weights’ as Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Messiaen, Vaughan Williams, Stravinksy, Prokofiev, de Falla, Kodaly, Dohnanyi, Nielsen, Sibelius . . . and on and on and on.

      Even among the so-called ‘Vienna second school’, it’s clear that Mahler had a more profound effect upon Berg than either Schoenberg or Webern.

      Shostakovich, on the other hand, claimed that he heard and/or studied all the Mahler symphonies at an early age. He also claimed that he had seen “Wozzeck” numerous times in St. Petersburg. To me, it seems clear that the Shostakovich’s 4th is not only the first of his ‘tombstones for the Russian people’ (Volkov), but that it’s also something of an homage to Mahler (or certainly influenced by Mahler). “Lady Macbeth” certainly had a predecessor in Berg’s “Wozzeck”, I think. Regardless, the Mahler, Berg, Shostakovich connection makes a lot of sense to me.

  • Rob says:

    Alma didn’t like Zemlinsky at first because “He has no chin!!”

  • MacroV says:

    Petrenko seems to have a taste for slightly offbeat pieces – the Zemlinsky, recordings of Suk’s A Summer Tale and Asrael, Pfitzner’s Palestrina. Plus an absolute mastery of Richard Strauss. I foresee a great era in Berlin.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    So I guess it would be fair to say that he has a taste for post-Wagnerian, harmonically chromatic sorts of music – music that falls between “Tristan” and atonalism. Perhaps he’ll do Scriabin as well.