Zemlinsky: Eine florentinische Tragödie

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COMPOSERS: Zemlinsky
LABELS: NAIVE
ALBUM TITLE: Zemlinsky – Eine florentinische Tragödie
WORKS: Eine florentinische Tragödie
PERFORMER: Iris Vermillion, Viktor Lutsiuk, Albert DohmenRadio France POArmin Jordan
CATALOGUE NO: 4987
The one-act Florentine Tragedy,

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after Oscar Wilde’s nasty but stylish

Renaissance drama, is one of the first

works whose revival in the 1970s

sent the long-neglected Zemlinsky’s

reputation into steep ascent. This

Radio France production, of a public

performance from September 2003,

is a powerful account of this gripping

work which, on its own, can be

heartily recommended.

However, there is also Riccardo

Chailly’s magnificent 1997 recording

with the Concertgebouw (in which

Iris Vermillion and Albert Dohmen,

as here, take the roles of Bianca and

Simone). Generally speaking Naïve’s

recording favours the voices more,

at the expense of some orchestral

detail – a drawback in a composer

like Zemlinsky, whose scores are

full of subtle polyphonic substance

and colour. Armin Jordan tends

towards slightly more relaxed tempos,

while Chailly grips from first to last.

Vermillion and Dohmen are ideally

cast in both recordings: if anything

Dohmen now brings a greater, baleful

authority to his role as the cuckolded

but finally triumphant husband,

whereas Viktor Lutsiuk’s Prince Guido

seems a little more lightweight than

Heinz Kruse on Chailly’s recording.

All told, two very fine versions of a still

too-little-known masterwork – but

this new version can’t quite match

Chailly (who also includes six Alma

Mahler songs) for sheer theatrical

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intensity. Calum MacDonald