Alma Mahler, Zemlinsky

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COMPOSERS: Alma Mahler,Zemlinsky
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Songs (complete).Songs, Op. 7
PERFORMER: Ruth Ziesak (soprano), Iris Vermillion (mezzo-soprano), Christian Elsner (tenor), Cord Garben (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 455-2
This disc comes from the same stable as CPO’s continuing Loewe series, also devised and accompanied by Cord Garben. The complete songs of Alma Mahler, however, fill just one CD. This is already cogent comment on the creative temperament of a woman whose self-image was shaped by countless contradictions and expectations of herself and of others – and which was finally silenced by Gustav Mahler’s perception of her creativity as a threat to his own.

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These performances of her 14 songs make their own contribution to the revelation of a cautious talent growing into greater facility and individuality under the tutelage of Alexander Zemlinsky, whose Op. 7 songs are included here. Vermillion’s gently sympathetic mezzo introduces an early group of songs, but her somewhat muted performances veil the ardour already burgeoning ‘In meines Vaters Garten’, and underplay the harmonic yearning of ‘Laue Sommernacht’. Christian Elsner’s eloquently enunciated tenor dares further to catch the electricity of desire crackling out of ‘Ansturm’; and the light soprano of Ruth Ziesak brings a childlike directness of vision to the night-music of ‘Waldseligkeit’, if less well cast in the more sensuously robust Novalis Hymns. Hilary Finch