Author Topic: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky  (Read 18019 times)

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Offline Brewski

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At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« on: October 16, 2007, 01:15:43 PM »
This week the New York Philharmonic is doing a concert version of Alexander von Zemlinsky's one-act opera, A Florentine Tragedy (1915-16), with James Conlon conducting and an excellent cast, including Anthony Dean Griffey (who will sing the title role in Peter Grimes at the Met next spring).  The libretto is based on Max Meyerfeld's translation of a play by Oscar Wilde.  I have the Chailly recording, which I like but haven't listened to enough to really get to know the piece.

Other fans of this composer?  I know he has been discussed briefly elsewhere, but didn't find a thread.  Other favorites from his output are Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) (1902-03), a lush tone poem, and the Lyric Symphony (1922-23), a gorgeous work for soprano, baritone and orchestra with texts by Rabindranath Tagore.

Other fans, favorite works? 

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Mark

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2007, 01:19:23 PM »
I have (and enjoy) his First and Second Symphonies on Naxos, Bruce, though I'm told better can be had - this, for example:


Don

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2007, 01:42:21 PM »
The Lyric Symphony is a favorite, and I think I own all versions.  However, my nod goes to the four string quartets.

Online Cato

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2007, 01:56:33 PM »
Check out Zemlinsky's Six Songs for Orchestra with mysterious, Symbolist texts by Maeterlinck.  What a tragedy this composer could not find an audience when he escaped to America: his highly chromatic, barely tonal style was pushed aside by his one-time brother-in-law Schoenberg and by Stravinsky.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2007, 02:45:27 PM »
I agree that Zemlinsky was a fine composer of music (mainly) in a late Romantic idiom. Riccardo Chailly, James Conlon and, now, Antony Beaumont have championed his music, although the version of his masterpiece the Lyric Symphony I possess is the 1982 account with Julia Varday, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Lorin Maazel conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. I certainly admire the lush orchestration of 'Die Seejungfrau' but I also think that the two Psalm settings that I know(No. 23 from 1910 and No.13 from 1935) are powerful works-their relatively short duration must make them difficult to programme. Conlon's double CD on EMI is a useful introduction, containing as it does the late Sinfonietta.

The numbering of the early symphonies is sometimes difficult to figure out! We are told that Zemlinsky wrote three symphonies whilst in his twenties. The Naxos CD referred to above calls the Symphony in D minor(1892) No.1 and the Symphony in B flat major(1897) No.2.
However, it appears that this numbering is actually misleading since there is an earlier Symphony in E minor dating from 1891 which is sometimes also referred to as No.1(although only the third and fourth movements appear to be extant in the Library of Congress in Washington). I don't know whether these movements have ever been performed or whether the first two movements are lost.
No doubt Antony Beaumont's biography of Zemlinsky-which I haven't seen-answers those questions!

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2007, 04:56:07 AM »
Other fans, favorite works? 
--Bruce

Zemlinsky's dates (1871-1942) correspond exactly to my favorite period of classical music (late Romantic through the early Modern) and he has long been one of my favorite composers. Besides the works already mentioned, I have a special fondness for this opera:



Apparently Cheryl Studer was not quite yet a household name (check out the spelling) ;D  I have Der Zwerg on order at JPC. That's the original version of this opera. An interesting biographical detail: apparently Zemlinsky identified with the dwarf that's so cruelly used and mocked by the Infanta (in real life, Alma Mahler?).

Sarge
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 05:00:47 AM by Sergeant Rock »
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Offline Brewski

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2007, 05:07:12 AM »
The Los Angeles Opera is doing Der Zwerg in the spring, along with Viktor Ullmann's The Broken Jug, both with James Conlon conducting.  Could be worth a little long weekend trip. 

http://www.losangelesopera.com/productions/0708/recovered/index.htm

(PS, Sarge, love the signature!)

--Bruce
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2007, 05:52:13 AM »
(PS, Sarge, love the signature!)
--Bruce

I hope it helps carry them through the Series. The last time they won was a few months before I was born. It's been a long 58 years   :(

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Kullervo

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2007, 06:01:57 AM »
I found this a few months ago, but still haven't listened for whatever reason.



This thread has moved it to the top of my "to hear" pile. :)

Offline Brewski

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 06:27:12 AM »
This thread has moved it to the top of my "to hear" pile. :)

Do report back: I think you are in for a sonic treat.

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 03:10:52 PM »
Zemlinsky is a true unsung master. Which is unfortunate. Perhaps his ability to mimic his peers' music works (worked) against him. It's not that he's a plagiarist of course but influences are audible. From Mahler to Debussy to Stravinsky and beyond. But who else could corral all these worthwhile influences and pop out such dignified results?

As far as recordings I can't say as I've heard one yet I didn't like. Conlon, Chailly, Jordan...all can be counted on to deliver quality work.

His operas are where the bulk of his output lies. And for good reason. He had a natural flair for the stage and his musical/dramatical efforts are never less than outright successes. Likewise his songs, whether in orchestral or chamber garb.

He wrote little in the way of chamber music but his string quartets are thrilling.






Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007, 04:53:45 PM »
I am quite fond of his Op 3: Trio in d for Clarinet, Cello & Piano. I also have the version by the Borodin Trio for Violin, Cello & Piano. It is a lovely piece of work. Thanks for the mention of the string quartets. I will surely have these before long. :)

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2007, 05:26:03 PM »
This is quite a nice disc of the second quartet, Gurn. Really finds the heart of Zemlinsky:





Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2007, 05:38:16 PM »
This is quite a nice disc of the second quartet, Gurn. Really finds the heart of Zemlinsky:







Thanks for the rec, donwyn. I would hope to find a set of the 4 of them (if such exists), but this will certainly do for a start. :)

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Online The new erato

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2007, 10:12:00 PM »
There is (was?) a DG set done by the Lasalle (I think, havn't access to my collection but I have it and have played the 2nd quartet a couple of times this year along with its disc coupling). The 2nd is major material.

Online The new erato

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2007, 10:17:43 PM »
An interesting biographical detail: apparently Zemlinsky identified with the dwarf that's so cruelly used and mocked by the Infanta (in real life, Alma Mahler?).

Sarge
In fact, Zemlinsky was extremely vertically challenged.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2007, 03:59:19 AM »
There is (was?) a DG set done by the Lasalle (I think, havn't access to my collection but I have it and have played the 2nd quartet a couple of times this year along with its disc coupling). The 2nd is major material.

LaSalle (the set I have too) is OOP and used copies are expensive. This is available, though, and has gotten good reviews:




Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Brewski

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2007, 08:56:37 AM »
Well, A Florentine Tragedy was just great.  I posted a few comments on it here.  And a friend posted a comment, saying that it had been staged in Santa Fe in 1984.  Here is the New York Times review. 

--Bruce
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Larry Rinkel

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2007, 10:44:13 AM »
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich might take offense at your subject title.  :D

Offline Brewski

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Re: At the end of the alphabet: Zemlinsky
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2007, 10:45:59 AM »
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich might take offense at your subject title.  :D

Oops!   :-[

--Bruce
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~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY