PERFORMER: Mitsuko Shirai (mezzo-soprano)Hartmut Höll (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 10 514 DDD
An eagerly awaited gem, Sony’s disc of songs by Zemlinsky not published in his lifetime is performed by an exceptional team of singers with the pianist Cord Garben (who here fills the gap left by his fine 1989 collection of the published songs on DG).
The new set has much in common with Shirai’s selection of Schoenberg’s early songs. The composers worked together closely in the first part of their careers, toying, for instance, with contemporary cabaret in their Brettl-Lieder, and both setting, for a competition, the ballads ‘Jane Grey’ and ‘Der verlorene Haufen’ (not on the Schoenberg disc).
The Zemlinsky collection traces his development from the youthful Sechs Lieder, composed at the age of 19 – typified by the ardent ‘Liebe und Frühling’ – to the chilling, magical ‘Und einmal gehst du’, written in 1933 when Zemlinsky was 62. Schmidt’s meditative, contained emotion in the sublime ‘Wandl’ ich im Wald des Abends’ and Ziesak’s interpretation of the Vier Lieder (1916) are outstanding.
Capriccio’s Schoenberg disc cries out equally for attention. Though with greater competition in the catalogue (only Jecklin provides some of Zemlinsky’s posthumous songs) – from the incomparable Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, no less – Shirai’s expressively phrased readings demand a place in record collections. Deborah Calland