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Ausgewählte Lieder - Selected Songs
see track listing below review
Ruth Ziesak (soprano)
Gerold Huber (piano)
rec. 19-22 November 2011, Radiostudio Zürich, Switzerland
CAPRICCIO C5119 [63:47]

After study in Frankfurt Ruth Ziesak set out as a member of the Heidelberg Municipal Theatre before establishing an international career in lyric soprano operatic roles, in lieder and in concert performances. I made her marvellous Liszt Lieder on Berlin Classics one of my 2008 Records of the Year. For Capriccio, she has once again chosen as her accompanist Gerold Huber the award-winning German pianist, a student of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München.
In terms of popularity, of the composers represented here, Mahler is miles ahead of Zemlinsky and light years ahead of Alma Mahler. Not only are Mahler’s symphonies staples of both concert hall and record his orchestral songs and Lieder have become celebrated too. His Lieder are of high quality with many of them being masterworks of the genre. Ziesak has selected eight from the fourteen Lieder und Gesänge composed in 1880/89. For the principal source of his lyrics Mahler has looked to the collection of traditional German folk poems Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Alte deutsche Lieder (The Boy's Magic Horn: Old German Songs). All of these interpretations are worth hearing although I especially enjoy the short but delightful Ablösung im Sommer with Ziesak and Huber expressing a range of emotions and a sense of wonder.
In 1902 the Vienna-born siren Alma Maria Schindler aged twenty-two married Gustav Mahler. Her composing career was cut short at her Gustav’s insistence. Earlier she had become a composition pupil of Zemlinsky (who was also her lover for a time) cultivating strong links to Arnold Schoenberg’s circle. Fewer than twenty of Alma’s output of Lieder appear to have survived. Her music is becoming increasingly heard and there are now a number of recordings available. Here seven of the settings are performed. These generally come across as attractive, rather touching and moderately melodic. However, they contain nothing like the emotional intensity and depth that the finest Lieder composers such as Gustav Mahler frequently achieve.
Zemlinsky was for a long time remembered mainly as the teacher and brother-in-law of Arnold Schoenberg. Slowly his music is achieving recognition although, I can’t recall encountering it in concert or recital. He fell under the spell of Alma Schindler who became his muse and lover. Infatuated he wrote to Alma “I want you - with every atom of my feeling” and dedicated his Fünf Gesäng, Op. 7 to her. In addition to the Op. 7 set Ziesak sings four additional Zemlinsky Lieder. The standout interpretation is the uplifting Irmelin Rose to a Jens Peter Jacobsen text. I also greatly enjoyed the pleading and highly dramatic Charles Baudelaire setting Harmonie des Abends.
Capriccio give us notes and an essay in English but the texts are given in German only.
Ziesak is an impressive Lieder performer giving highly convincing interpretations that demonstrate her clear bright tones and enviable tuning. The sensitive work from Gerold Huber adds to the desirability of the release let down sadly by lack of English translations.
Michael Cookson

Track Listing
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Lieder und Gesäng:
1. Frühlingsmorgen [2:07]
2. Hans und Grete [2:14]
3. Selbstgefühl [2:17]
4. Um schlimme Kinder artig zu machen [2:05]
Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
Fünf Gesäng Op. 7:
5. Da waren zwei Kinder [1:38]
6. Entbietung [1:34]
7. Meeraugen [2:18]
8. Irmelin Rose [2:54]
9. Sonntag [1:05]
Alma MAHLER (1879-1964)
10. Die stille Stadt [2:25]
11. Bei dir ist es traut [1:52]
12. In meines Vaters Garten [5:47]
13. Erntelied [4:51]
14. Ich wandle unter Blumen [1:12]
15. Waldseligkeit [2:15]
16. Hymne an die Nacht [3:56]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
17. Erinnerung [2:46]
18. Ich ging mit Lust durch einen grünen Wald [4:38]
19. Ablösung im Sommer [1:44]
20. Scheiden und Meiden [2:50]
Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
21. Noch spür ich ihren Atem auf den Wangen [2:15]
22. Hörtest du den nicht hinein [1:30]
23. Die Beiden [3:11]
24. Harmonie des Abends [3:49]