Zemlinsky: Die Seejungfrau; Psalms XIII & XXIII

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COMPOSERS: Zemlinsky
LABELS: Decca Entartete Musik
WORKS: Die Seejungfrau; Psalms XIII & XXIII
PERFORMER: Ernst Senff Chamber Choir, Berlin RSO/ Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 444 969-2 DDD (1987/89)
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story of a mermaid who falls in love with the prince she rescues from a shipwreck, Zemlinsky’s three-movement symphonic poem Die Seejungfrau is considered the finest work of his successful early period. All the elements of his pedigree – Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg – are evident alongside the Zemlinsky hallmark of imaginative and evocative orchestration. Chailly’s attention to detail and Decca’s all-illuminating sound combine to produce an exciting, vital account, with a particularly vivid performance of the storm scene. If Chailly’s gestures lack some of Zoltán Peskó’s warmth of phrasing for Wergo (the only current competition, let down by sound quality) and some of his Mahlerian expansiveness, he makes up for it with translucent clarity. Strongly recommended. Deborah Calland