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The two cycles that form the major part of this recording are, however, from later and perhaps more sober times. Six songs for mezzo-soprano and orchestra Op 13 were written 1910-13 to texts by Maeterlinck and have already moved with the times. At least one (the sixth, 'She came to the palace') will be hard to resist replaying several times [listen -- track 10, 2:14-3:16].

In great contrast, the other cycle is a lively and moving group of seven Symphonic Songs Op 20 for baritone and orchestra, completed in 1929. They use poems from a Harlem Renaissance anthology which appeared in the 1920s set to music that has a quaint jazz influence, enhanced by percussion and mandolin, prompted by the bouquet of a new generation, Hindemith, Krenek and Kurt Weill [listen -- track 14, 0:00-0:50].

Zemlinsky, who began as a Wagnerian, was acutely aware of the rapidly developing climate around him and moved with it, whilst remaining quietly and modestly himself, never failing in superb craftsmanship and with a gift for the magical manipulation of orchestral colour [listen -- track 16, 0:00-0:55].

For the unashamed romantic, this is a CD well worth having, even though the 'complete' in its title may be rather flexible -- one of his earliest orchestral songs seems to be missing and two have been carefully orchestrated. The performances are warm and sympathetic, making a good case for this composer's wider recognition.

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



CD INFORMATION - EMI 7243 5 57024 2 5




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