One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: Crotchet

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
Der Traumgörge
- An opera in two acts and an epilogue (1904-07)
David Kuebler (Görge); Patricia Racette (Gertraud); Iride Martinez (Grete); Andreas Schmidt (Hans) with Susan Anthony; Michael Volle, Lothar Odinius, Zelotes Edmund Toliver, Julian Rodescu, Natalie Karl, John Pierce, Machiko Obata.
Opernchor der Musikhochschule Köln
Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker/James Conlon
rec 6-8 July 1999, Köln
EMI CLASSICS 6876792 [72.55 + 74.32]

Experience Classicsonline

I was surprised when this CD dropped through my letter-box for review. My knowledge and understanding of opera is limited. In fact, I recall being taken to task by a lady who was an opera cognoscente for not progressing beyond The Yeoman of the Guard, Merrie England and The Rebel Maid. She could not understand how someone who claimed to enjoy classical music could not appreciate Verdi, Donizetti and Wagner. I thought to myself, ‘How can anyone not appreciate Schoenberg, Sorabji or Stanford’, but I wisely held my peace!

I believed that I was getting a disc of orchestral music by Alexander Zemlinsky - but it was Der Traumgörge that was demanding a review.

Der Traumgörge or ‘George the Dreamer’ was Alexander Zemlinsky’s third opera: it was composed between 1904 and 1907. There is an autobiographical element to this opera revolving around the composer’s relationship with Alma Schindler - the future wife of Gustav Mahler. Alas, the opera was not performed at the Vienna Court Opera. Mahler resigned when it was at an advanced state of rehearsals and his successor Felix Weingartner did not wish to perform it. The work remained unheard until 1980 - some 38 years after the composer’s death.

The plot of Der Traumgörge is a little bit confused. In fact it is quite difficult to get one’s head around the hero Gorge. On the one hand, he is a mummy’s boy - someone who does not appear to have an ounce of volition or self-determination. And then he is about to be married to a grasping woman, Grete, who is more interested in his entailed property and his mill business than she is in his dreams of fairytales and fantastic heroes, and most importantly a Dream Princess. A vision encourages him to dip out of his forthcoming marriage and head for the world of fantasy and beauty. Unfortunately, this does not go to plan and he becomes somewhat dissolute. After a touch to much drink he gets involved in a local uprising. He later becomes enamoured of a certain Gertraud: she has been expelled from the village having been accused of witchcraft and arson. He turns on his revolutionary friends and goes to Gertraud who is on the brink of committing suicide. Inevitably, they fall in love with each other. The opera closes with an epilogue back in the village of the first act. No longer a mummy’s boy he has won the admiration of all the villagers - no doubt with the exception of Grete. And, right at the end Gertraud turns into the Dream Princess for which Gorge had been searching. All live happily ever after!

If I were to try to give a flavour of the music I would have to suggest it is a little bit of a mixture of Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Engelbert Humperdinck and Mahler himself. It is not fair to imply that somehow the composer deliberately mixed these elements up, but it is not hard to hear these musical references as the opera progresses. The fairytale nature of the work surely nods to Hansel ünd Gretel, whilst some of the soaring music and the rich vocal lines hail from Gurrelieder and Der Rosenkavalier. Perhaps it is easier to describe this work as an opera that Mahler might have written he had been so inclined.

The most obvious criticism of this fine CD is the lack of text (whereas the original 2001 issue had a full booklet of sung text and translations). A quick search of the internet reveals no libretto for this work: there is certainly no copy of the score on my bookshelves. The Westminster Music Library does not have one either. does not have a copy available for purchase. In fact the only place that seems to have the score is the British Library. So, unless the listener has a good grasp of German (I can ask for a cup of tea and know a fair few musical terms) or can sneak their CD player into the BL at St Pancras they will have little notion as to the progress of the opera. All this great music and no way of understanding what they are singing! Perhaps there should be a downloadable libretto in English, French and German on the EMI website?

Yet I have no doubt this is a great opera. I am impressed by the sheer depth of the music, the power of the singing and the palpable beauty of the integrated orchestral part. The singing is committed and the balance between the orchestra and the soloist is near perfect.

One important fact is that the present recording is the complete score; the cuts made by Gustav Mahler for the abandoned first performance have been completely restored by James Conlon.

Lastly, it may be a naive observation, but I feel that opera is best watched on the stage or, second best on the television. It may be OK to have CDs of operas that are well-known to the listener (I have The Pirates of Penzance on my iPod). However, a work that is new to many opera buffs - as I guess Der Traumgörge will be - needs to have the full works: music, stage and actions. Roll on the DVD!

That said, it is a great recording of music that is at one and the same time inspiring, beautiful and moving. It will find a place in the collection of all post-Wagnerian opera enthusiasts.

John France

see also review by Rob Barnett of original release (CDS5570872)



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.