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orchestration of Act 3 completed by FRIEDRICH CERHA

Teresa Stratas (sop/ Lulu)
Franz Mazura (bar/ Dr Schön/ Jack)
Yvonne Minton (mez/ Countess Geschwitz)
Kenneth Riegel (ten/ Alwa)
Gerd Nienstedt (bass/ An Animal-tamer/ Rodrigo)
Toni Blankenheim (bar/ Schigolch/ Professor of Medicine / The Police Officer)
Robert Tear (ten/ The Painter/ A Negro)
Helmut Pampuch (ten/ The Prince/ The Manservant / The Marquis)
Jules Bastin (bass/ The Theatre Manager/ The Banker)
Ursula Boese (mez/ Her Mother)
Claude Meloni (bar/ A Journalist); Pierre-Yves Le Maigat (bass/ A Manservant)
Hanna Schwarz (mez/ A Dresser in the theatre, High School Boy / A Groom)
Jane Manning (sop/ A fifteen-year-old girl)
Anna Ringart (mez/ A Lady Artist)
Paris Opéra Orchestra/Pierre Boulez.

DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 463 617-2 DG Originals series
(Previously issued on LP DG 2740213 and CD DG 415 489-2GH3) 3CDs [172.00]

Crotchet  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

Alban Berg's widow had long resisted anyone completing the last act of what some would consider Berg's masterpiece. For almost 40 years the last act was often performed as a mime to the symphonic fragments composed by Berg before completing the drama for playing abroad, publicising the work. This was because Berg's music at the time was banned by the Nazis in his native Germany.

Without going into extensive detail, this completion by the Austrian conductor and composer, Friedrich Cerha, was a cloak and dagger affair, done between Berg's music publisher and Friedrich Cerha. Berg's widow had written the ban into her will in 1969, and when she died in 1976, this was continued by the Berg foundation which she had set up in 1969. When the completion finally surfaced in 1976, the foundation came to a settlement and thus the completion was allowed to be performed.

The world premiere was entrusted to Pierre Boulez and this recording was made a few months after the triumphant first performances in Paris. Like many premieres which are recorded, there is often a buzz about them, and the present issue is no exception. The cast is a very strong one and the set has been well thought of since its initial release at full price.

Some of DGG Originals releases of opera sets have been criticised for less than complete notes but there are no complaints here. The timing of the work is just a few minutes over what would have been able to be accommodated on a two disc set. DGG have therefore arranged it in the format of one act to a disc, so there are no awkward side breaks. Added to this is a full multi-lingual libretto with copious notes; in fact it looks like a straight reissue of the full price version apart from the LP look of the discs.

The third act completes Alban Berg's inspiration and brings the story of Lulu to its proper conclusion instead of the previous ending which left the drama hanging in mid-air. There, we missed Lulu being murdered by Jack the Ripper and Berg's transformation of the heroine from loose woman to blackmail victim. Also her husband earlier in the drama (Dr. Schon) becomes her murderer (Jack the Ripper). Berg's ingenuity of casting the same singer in the two parts, brings a totally different aspect to the drama. In the completed version, Lulu ends up as a truly tragic heroine.

Teresa Stratos fully measures up to this portrayal and is ably supported by the remainder of the cast, Boulez and his orchestra. Her voice is bright and strong and she portrays the character of Lulu very accurately. This is backed up by a very clear, analytical recording, without the dryness of some of the competitive versions. This stands at the head of available versions of Lulu, and it is wonderful to welcome it back into the catalogue, especially at mid-price.


John Phillips

See also review by Rob Barnett


John Phillips

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