Berg: Altenberg Lieder; Three Pieces from the Lyric Suite; Lulu Suite

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berg
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Altenberg Lieder; Three Pieces from the Lyric Suite; Lulu Suite
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Vienna PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 447 749-2
Banse is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. A protégé of Brigitte Fassbaender and member of the Vienna State Opera, she made her Vienna PO debut with Abbado in 1994 singing the Lulu Suite. That live performance forms the heart of this recording, and reveals both the distinctive character and formidable range of Banse’s voice: a true soprano (with a searing top D), with the strength and dusky bloom of a mezzo in its middle and lower registers.

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Banse’s verbal intelligence and imagination finds close focus in Berg’s earlier, rarified Altenberg Lieder. These epigrammatic prose-poems sent on postcards to friends by the turn-of-the-century Viennese poet Peter Altenberg, are given just the vivid, concentrated presence they demand, from the perfect poise of the voice above the 12-tone orchestral kaleidoscope of the third song to the final passacaglia of peace. In these works, and in Berg’s 1928 orchestral version of three pieces from the Lyric Suite, which together make this disc such an illuminating Bergian triptych, Abbado draws supple, finely variegated and searching playing from the Vienna Philharmonic. Hilary Finch