Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Bernarda Fink Sings Mahler Lieder

Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Amore e Tormento

Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 

Verdi at the Old MET

With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s major opera houses today.

Italo Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre re

In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions. 

Così fan tutte from DG

Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790. 

Heart’s Delight: The Songs of Richard Tauber

During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.

Adriana Lecouvreur from Decca

Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.

Lawrence Brownlee’s Spiritual Sketches

It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.

Great Wagner Conductors from DG

As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive archives.

Great Wagner Singers from DG

There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled Great Wagner Singers.

Adding Movie Magic to The Magic Flute

What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?

L’Incoronazione di Poppea from Virgin Classics

Since its first performance at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo during Venice’s 1643 Carnevale, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea has been one of the most important milestones in the genesis of modern opera despite its 250 years of unmerited obscurity. 

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Songs by Zemlinsky
16 Nov 2012

Songs by Zemlinsky

While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.

Songs by Zemlinsky

Hermine Haselböck, soprano; Florian Henschel, piano

Bridge 9244 [CD]

$16.99  Click to buy

The present recording by Hermine Haselböck, mezzo-soprano, and Florian Henschel, piano, includes a selection of twenty-six songs, including pieces from the Nachlass, which were first published in 1995 and represent Zemlinsky’s efforts in this genre from roughly the decade between1889 and 1901. The choice of pieces is excellent both in providing a sense of Zemlinsky’s style at this point in his career, and also in giving a sense of the style Haselböck brings to this repertoire.

While the repertoire may be less familiar than some of the songs by Mahler, which Haselböck also recorded, it is musically engaging. Some of the pieces suggest affinities with composers of the previous generation, like Brahms, as found in his Heine setting Die schlanke Wasserlilie and Liebe und Frühling (text by Hoffmann von Fallerslebe). Yet other pieces are more expressionistic, as with the Sechs Gesänge nach Texten von Maurice Maeterlinck, Op. 13. The Maeterlinck settings are some of the more evocative pieces on this recording, and Haselböck’s interpretation of this set is particularly effective in bringing out the declamation of the text. Her partner in these pieces, Florian Henschel, is equally strong in his stylish performance of these pieces, which show the ways in which Zemlinsky used idiomatic piano figuration to support some of the dissonant sonorities in such songs as Die drei Schwestern and Lied der Jungfrau. The latter is haunting in its subtle presentation of poetry. Haseböck’s masterful interpretations of these pieces and the remainder on this recording show her command of Zemlinsky’s style. Standing between such contemporaries as Gustav Mahler and Alban Berg, Zemlinsky remains an individual voice, and in this regard deserves attention for the ways in which his works in this genre reflect the cultural forces at the turn of the last century, which are rooted in tonal structures, yet make use of modernist effects to allow dissonances that give underscore the texts. Perhaps it is the challenges in Maeterlinck’s texts which challenged the composer to create such memorable settings that bring out the fine qualities of Haselböck’s voice as accompanied by Henschel.

As modern as Zemlinsky can be, he also draws on some of conventions of the Viennese past in the Walzergesänge, op. 6. The bows to traditional dance rhythms and associated musical gestures reflect the composer’s sense of the past, while Zemlinsky’s structures bear attention for the ways in which he transcends some of predictable patterns to create original songs, not pastiches of music from the mid-nineteenth century. Klagen ist der Mond gekommen is an excellent song from this set, and gives a sense style Zemlinsky brought to this set. Likewise, Ich geh’ des Nachts seems at once rooted in Brahms’ Von ewiger Liebe, while looking toward some of the concision Berg brought to his settings of Altenberg’s texts.

Even so, Haselböck includes some of Zemlinsky’s more popular-sounding pieces in the two Brettl-Lieder, In der Sonnengassei and Herr Bombardil. These cabaret-influenced pieces reflect the period and transcend it, as some of the cliché gestures take on new meaning in the composer’s hands. Haselböck offers an effective and sensitive reading of both pieces, which round out this fine well-thought selection of Zemlinsky’s Lieder. Henschel partners well with her in giving authoritative readings of music that deserves the attention they have given it. This is a fine introduction to Zemlinsky’s songs for those unfamiliar with them, while individuals who know the repertoire should enjoy the performances on this welcome recording. The engineering of this recording supports the performances well, with good balances between the voice and piano. The keyboard is full and rich, but never covers the voice. At the same time, the recording gives a good sense of Haselböck’s mezzo-soprano voice, which is suited well to deliver these songs. It is a fine contribution to the music of the fin-de-siècle Vienna, and to the discography of Zemlinsky’s music.

James L. Zychowicz

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):