At last, the real Zemlinsky

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

I think I’m safe in saying there is no satisfactory performance of this troubling work on record. Lorin Maazel undertook it for DG with minimal conductorial intervention, Michael Gielen released a live — and fairly lithe — radio recording and Riccardo Chailly broached it with the Concertgebouw in the early 1990s, which is as good as it got until now but not close enough for me to the heart of the Zemlinsky enigma….

Read on here and here.


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  • My first DG LP of this piece was conducted by Rafael Kubelik, fine performance as I recall.Then 40 years later, after quite a few other LP’s and CD’s of this marvellous piece came a Chandos CD with my favourite interpretation by conductor Antony Beaumont.For those of you who love this music, as I do,highly recommended.

  • Really, what about James Conlon’s marvelous recording on EMI Classics with the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne? Conlon is a masterful interpreter of Zemlinsky’s works and this recording is beautiful and deeply satisfying.

      • He also missed the Bernhard Klee, which is maybe not the most inspired (workaday Klee, we used to call him) but which, apart from Dale Duesing, has Elisabeth Soderstrom on very good form.

  • I’ll get this disk – always room for more Zemlinsky. Too bad the coupling isn’t more from him. With so many recordings of this beautiful work, it sure is a shame we don’t hear his music in live concerts more often.

  • Very interesting review, Norman. I’ve never been fully convinced of the “Lyric Symphony”, so I’ll try this recording and the Conlon that others have recommended. I have a question for you.

    Norman, you state that in “Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler “tears himself apart over the impossibility of two humans ever connecting at the deepest level”. I’ve never thought of it that way. I’ve always assumed that the text, regardless of the fact that two different voices are employed, is telling a narrative of just one protagonist – or speaking for the ‘every-man’. Universal truths that apply to most everybody. What is your clue that it’s about humans not being able to connect deeply? My question is sincere.

  • The 2 conductors are giants (Maazel and Chailly). I cannot imagine them not taking anything seriously, especially Maazel, who was a perfectionist. Are you just plugging a new album because you got it free? Be honest.

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