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Thread: SS 09.05.20 - Zemlinsky #2

  1. #16
    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I seem to know only shorter works - songs and the like - by Zemlinsky. Do, please, tell me more about the works of his that you feel best show his talents ...
    I was really interested in the way that Zemlinsky was aware of the musical changes going on around him in the years directly before and after WWI and was largely sympathetic to them but that his own steps away from out-and-out late romanticism were more cautious.

    He composed a fair amount of opera, and I think the two shortish ones containing expressionist elements and both based on Oscar Wilde short stories, Eine florentinische Tragödie (1915-16) and Der Zwerg (1919-21), are good starting-off points from this corner of his output.

    The second string quartet from 1913-14 sounds like a real advance on the first. The fourth is almost akin to Berg's Lyric Suite in structure (it was actually written as an elegy for Berg the year after his death) but throughout the cycle of four there is a sense of stylistic evolution which perhaps isn't as noticeable elsewhere in Zemlinsky's output.

    Near the end of Zemlinsky's career came the Sinfonietta from 1934 which is an almost austere example of neoclassicism.

    The Lyric Symphony from 1922-23 is one of Zemlinsky's more celebrated works despite some thinking it as basking in the shadow of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, but in the vocal/orchestra stakes I think the Symphonische Gesänge (1929 - using African-American texts) is in the running for being his best.

    Hope this might be enough to whet the appetite.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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  3. #17
    Senior Member Joachim Raff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    First listen to this Symphony for me - Chailly via Qobuz.


    Attachment 135500

    Decent enough piece without anything overly memorable that grabbed my attention, the Scherzando movement came closest to doing so.
    I have noted it and will definitely give it another listen, as I get the impression it may be a grower that requires a few chances to make its mark.
    I quite agree but its a composer i have not given much attention until now, so i thank the Saturday Symphony for that. There is much to like with a Bruckner flavour but its not Bruckner in a lot of ways. One can hear Brahms or even Dvorak in the piece. What makes a desirable listen is Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Chailly combination and the warm, dynamic, detailed Decca sound. Really enjoyed this week's choice. Jolly good show!

  4. #18
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    Hope this might be enough to whet the appetite.
    That was really useful. Thanks very much.

  5. #19
    Senior Member MrMeatScience's Avatar
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    Really enjoyed this piece; I listened to the Chailly recording like most here. I'm a total sucker for this style of music so it wasn't a hard sell. I agree that the second movement is a real highlight, but Zemlinsky kept me engaged all the way through the symphony, though it perhaps sags a bit in the finale. I haven't heard the First, from 1893, but I think I'll seek that out now. Great pick this week!

  6. #20
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Listened to Chailly’s performance today. I can’t say I listened terribly closely because my attention kept wandering due to disinterest. I tried to pay attention, though. So, needless to say, I have a contrary view.

    The symphony is musically confusing with all of its heaving and throbbing, a not unheard of failing in music of its period. Ideas are not exactly indistinct but are certainly not memorable either. As noted, there are echoes of a lot of composers here, but nothing resembling an original (or interesting) style.

    I think there’s some good music in there, somewhere. The composer needed to ruthlessly edit it until only the best ideas remained and the structure was a lot clearer. That might make the symphony 25 minutes long rather than its current 45-minute Eroica length. Since he has passed on (to a better place, one assumes) that is unlikely to happen now.
    Last edited by KenOC; May-11-2020 at 00:34.


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  8. #21
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    Zemlinsky's 2nd is a very good work: tuneful, consistently developed and with energy. I like when the main tune of the 1st movement (which sounds pretty similar to that of Lohengrin's Wedding March) appears near the ending, in all its splendour.

    The 1st Symphony really lacks inspiration, but the 2nd doesn't at all. I'm very fond of it.

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  10. #22
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joachim Raff View Post
    I quite agree but its a composer i have not given much attention until now, so i thank the Saturday Symphony for that. There is much to like with a Bruckner flavour but its not Bruckner in a lot of ways. One can hear Brahms or even Dvorak in the piece. What makes a desirable listen is Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Chailly combination and the warm, dynamic, detailed Decca sound. Really enjoyed this week's choice. Jolly good show!
    My thoughts almost exactly. I had been thinking I heard a lot of Mahler, but now that Raff mentions it, I think it's more Bruckner. At first I thought I heard some R. Strauss-like ideas, but Zemlinsky turned out to be much less adventurous (and interesting) than Strauss. This music is very diatonic. I definitely agree that the playing and sound quality were top quality, and I would like to hear this with SACD quality on my system rather than on Youtube, but I'm not thrilled enough with the piece to prioritize it for adding to my collection. But I like it a lot and have good memories already of listening to it happily while sitting in my sunny family room one day and while sitting in bed on a rainy day just yesterday.

  11. #23
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    The second string quartet from 1913-14 sounds like a real advance on the first. The fourth is almost akin to Berg's Lyric Suite in structure (it was actually written as an elegy for Berg the year after his death) but throughout the cycle of four there is a sense of stylistic evolution which perhaps isn't as noticeable elsewhere in Zemlinsky's output.
    I spent some time with the 4th quartet today. A wonderful piece!

  12. #24
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post

    I think there’s some good music in there, somewhere.
    I gave it only one listen but the good stuff was in the the second half as far as I could hear. The first two movements didn't really do much for me. But I would have to listen a few more times to establish a more informed opinion.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    Senior Member Flamme's Avatar
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    Wow this composer had such an interesting life and background...He even loox interesting in his picture...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_von_Zemlinsky
    'Listen, Mister god!
    Isn't it boring
    to dip your puffy eyes,
    every day, into a jelly of clouds?'

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