Florian Boesch sings works by Krenek and Zemlinsky

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COMPOSERS: Kernel,Zemlinsky
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Krenek • Zemlinsky
WORKS: Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen; Zemlinsky: 7 Lieder – selection; Wandl’ ich im Wald des Abends
PERFORMER: Florian Boesch (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68158  

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The motifs of longing, wandering, exile and alienation have occupied German-speaking Romantic poets and musicians. When in 1929 Ernst Krenek wanted to pay tribute to Schubert, following his centenary anniversary year, he nudged those motifs sideways into his own time, and wrote the somewhat verbose, almost journalistic texts for the revisionist songcycle, Journal of a Trip to the Austrian Alps. Here the self-questioning, the wandering, the plaints and complaints are voiced in an environment cluttered with electricity, telephones, guidebooks, tourists and motorbikes. And the tone of voice, so perfectly captured by Florian Boesch’s securely focused yet nonchalant baritone, is very much that of the so-called ‘new objectivity, or ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ of the 1920s.

The piano accompaniments, lucidly and energetically wrought by Roger Vignoles, add little emotional subtext, and the tone of voice makes us feel we are eavesdropping on a private conversation with the self, introspection lightly held, anger filtered through wry observation and irony. Words are inflected in tones as subtly Austrian as those of Boesch’s composer compatriot. And, despite a climactic existential thunderstorm and a Winterreise vision or two, Krenek’s conclusion is, ‘I am, despite everything, happy.’

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Hilary Finch