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Ensemble

A Top-notch Formation

Operas by Zemlinsky and Puccini,
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI

 

The two-week Italian mini festival of Entartete Musik could not have its conclusion just with Alexander Zemlinsky in Rome, after Berg in Milan and Schreker in Palermo. Zemlinsky is not generally known to vast audiences even though his musical dramas are recognized as major achievements of the first half of the twentieth century since 1980 when Der Zwerg ('The Dwarf') and Eine florentinische Tragödie ('A Florentine Tragedy'), both after Oscar Wilde's texts, were staged in Hamburg with a terrific success. Now his music dramas are often in the programs of major opera houses in Europe and also in the USA; Zemlinsky found a posthumous apostle in American conductor James Conlon, but the USA was not kind to Zemlinsky in the last years of his life. In exile -- he was a Jew -- he died poor and forgotten in 1942 in Larchmont, near New York, after many attempts to persuade the Metropolitan Opera house management to stage his latest work (Köning Kandaules, 'The King from Kandaule', after a short novel by André Gide); the Met considered it 'too lusty' and 'nearly obscene' to be staged and to be seen by the puritan audience during World War II.

'Alexander Zemlinsky', Arnold Schoenberg wrote in 1949, 'was the person I owe almost all I know about the methods and techniques of composing...

Copyright © 19 April 2010 Giuseppe Pennisi,
Rome, Italy

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ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY

GIACOMO PUCCINI

ENTARTETE MUSIK

GIANNI SCHICCHI

OSCAR WILDE

SAIMIR PIRGU

ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DI SANTA CECILIA

ROME

ITALY

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller