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Six Songs (lyrics: Maurice
(i. Die drei. schwestern, op. 13 [4:15];
ii. Die mädchen mit den verbundenen
augen, op. 13 [3:17]; iii. Lied der jungfrau,
op. 13 [2:56]; iv. Als ihr geliebter schied,
op. 13 [2:35]; v. Und kehrt er einst heim,
op. 13 [3:10]; vi. Sie kam zum schloss
gegangen, op. 13 [ 5:07])
Menschheit (lyrics: Theodor
(Der Dudelsack, op. 28 [5:15]; ii. Flügellahmer
versuch, op. 28 [8:10]; iii. Oft einfach,
op. 28 [2:44]; iv. Dämmerung, op.
28 [4:15]; v. Einblick, op. 28 [8:12])
Landschaften, (lyrics: Theodor
(Die Türen Sind Zugeweht, op. 26
[2:43]; ii. Alle Frauen Weinen, op. 26
[3:12]; iii. Demut Faltet Den Raum, op.
26 [3:55]; iv. Viele Wege Sind Kleine,
Vergangene, op. 26 [2:20]; v. Die Goldnen
Winde, op. 26 [3:34])
Randi Stene (mezzo)
Trondheim Symphony Orchestra/Muhai Tang
rec. 14-18 June 2004. Olavshallen, Trondheim,
SIMAX PSC 1249 [65:41]
Opening of Einblick
Sound samples are removed
after two months
These songs with orchestra
receive a rapturous performance and
Zemlinsky's Six Maeterlinck
Songs will please any lover of sumptuous
late late-romantic music. They
will bring an especial glow if you warm
to Mahler's Das lied von der Erde
or Zemlinsky's own Lyrische Symphonie
or Bantock's Sappho Fragments
or Bax's Dehmel settings
or Griffes' Fiona MacLeod songs.
The orchestration is
luxurious and evinces great artistry
in conjuring textures both diaphanous
and densely eruptive. There is nothing
minimalist about this music and that
is patent from the first song Die
drei schwestern which is nothing
less than a dramatic scena reeking with
petrol-vapour flammability. Its essence
is operatic rather like Sibelius's big
orchestral songs including Count
Magnus. The other songs are more
contented and scored with breathtaking
dreamy beauty - try Lied der jungfrau
but could equally well be operatic.
The more restful songs, which are in
the ascendancy after the ripeness and
smoking emotion of Die Drei schwestern,
also recall the orchestral songs
of Delius and Czeslaw Marek.
for only 22 minutes of this disc’s 65
minutes. The rest is down to two works
called 'symphony for voice and orchestra'
by Erwin Schulhoff. Prague-born Schulhoff
allied his early style with that of
Mahler in late-romantic affluence. He
emerged from the Great War with his
style undergoing metamorphosis - rather
like Frank Bridge - except that Bridge
was an appalled spectator to the war
rather than a participant. The immediate
post-war years from which these two
works derive had not yet seen the change
but it was in train. He was gradually
to move to a sparer, more jazz-orientated
style. His politics were to change to
communism, he was to become a Soviet
citizen and he was to die at Wurzburg
concentration camp. These two symphonies
are rapturously sad utterances. Schulhoff's
writing is broadly in the same territory
as Zemlinsky although he is a shade
less sumptuous in his orchestral textures
– for example in the case of Menschheit.
There is a greater transparency about
Schulhoff’s writing as well as a willingness
to embrace various shades of dissonance.
Even so the trumpeting end of Der
Dudelsack has impressive majesty.
Schulhoff was clearly at this stage
in his life more of a Mahler epigone
than Zemlinsky. Catchy little trudging
motifs instantly recall Mahler. Yet
he is closer to conveying emotional
contentment than it appears Mahler ever
was. Unrest troubles even the most seraphic
pages in Mahler - Mahler could never
have written the carefree and uncomplicated
Oft einfach (tr. 9). The finale
song of Menschheit is Einblick
which is mournful and charged with
regret. Nevertheless it rises to a sumptuously
sorrowing peak and with mountainously
tragic brass-calls sinks back with a
sort of agonised repletion. Superb stuff!
half the length of Menschheit.
Die Türen is more operatic,
in the manner of Zemlinsky's Die
drei schwestern - even Wagnerian.
However the textures and the elusive
haunted and haunting mood returns for
Alle frauen weinen and Demut
faltet den Raum. Lucidly pleasing
solos often reach out to the listener
in these two symphonic song-cycles.
This is also true of the harp part at
the start of the last song Die goldne
Wind which is stormily Mahlerian
and drenched in tragic grandeur. These
songs are powder kegs of emotionality.
The booklet is in English
only but much to my surprise reproduces
neither the original words nor translations.
The background notes however are extensive
and rewarding as you would expect from
Malcolm Macdonald whose work for neglected
music through the pages of Tempo has
Randi Stene and the
orchestra are magnificent in these gloriously
emotion saturated songs.