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The earliest songs in this recording date from 1895, when the composer was 24. Waldgespräch [listen -- track 1, 5:20-6:12] is a setting of Eichendorff for soprano, strings, 2 horns and harp, shaped in two vigorously contrasting moods, the more serene of which ('It is already late, it is already cold') is typical of Zemlinsky's musical voice, both then and later. But later, in a project left incomplete about 1901, a piece designed as a companion to Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, he is a composer unfolding closely in touch with the creative spirit of his environment. The intended cycle was, like Schoenberg, for string sextet and using Richard Dehmel's poems. The shared passions can be heard in this one existing setting, Maiblumen ('Fragrance had turned the night warm as blood, and we -- so young and joyless ...) [listen -- track 2, 5:23-6:13].

A setting of an unknown poet, orchestrated for the recording by Anthony Beaumont, makes up a pair of poems for baritone and orchestra, also from 1901, and showing the bold and unashamed influence of Wagner [listen -- track 4, 8:21-9:18]. This was the year in which Zemlinsky was drawn into a brief but fierce affair with the 20-year-old Alma Schindler who herself was recoiling from an affair with the painter Gustav Klimt, keeping a couple of ardent architects and the theatre director Max Burckhard at only fractionally less than arms length, and within weeks of falling willingly into the passionate embraces of Gustav Mahler.

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Copyright © 26 December 2000 Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK



CD INFORMATION - EMI 7243 5 57024 2 5




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