5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If like me you are quietly but surely investigating 'modern music ( by which I mean Berg, Bartok, Zemlimsky, Schoenburg, Ligeti and the like) then it is always handy to have a few reference discs from which to start your travels. This beautifully realised CD is one such. The playing of the LSO Abbado seems completely in the idiom conveying all the passion and depth of feeling intrinsic to these works. Margaret Price of course sings wonderfully throughout, especially on `Five Orchestral Songs'. To get some idea of the value of this disc, simply listen to the Rondo of the 'Lulu Suite' - revealing ravishing memory haunting melodies, that while beautifully seem always to hint at darker, unknowable, dissolute things.
Despite the view that this music might be considered 'difficult', I would say it has the same sort of emotional tumult that you expect to finds in the symphonic works of Mahler or Richard Strauss. Yet there is perhaps a darker tone that prevails in all the works presented here, a tone that precludes the idea of resolution or hope because the idea of the heroic is missing. The nearest we hear of resolution on this disc is the beautiful final song `Hier ist Friede' but you will look in vain for comfort elsewhere in these works. This lack of idealism was created by a cynicism that rejected and mocked the obsessive materialism and hypocrisy of the Bourgeoisie, (the so -called Fin de Siècle movement) but could not properly decide whether to revel in the decay of society or find some sort of `way out' of the putrefying morass. Hence the desperate and thoroughly corrupt opera, `Lulu', a work about degeneracy reflecting a world where conventional perceptions and morality do not run, where ruin for all concerned awaits. It is not `easy` music but there is much to explore and understand that one can not help but be mesmerized by Berg's richness of invention and singular world view.
This is a wonderful disc. Musically, performance and production wise it is definitely a recording to treasure.
on 31 July 2015
These performances have probably never been bettered. None of these pieces are particularly easy. The Lulu suite is harrowing and shocking but still stunningly beautiful. The Altenberg Lieder are epigrammatic: each one almost gone before one can grasp anything - but they're poignant and alpine, crystalline yet intense. The Three Pieces are highly complex structurally, monumental though terse, dark but never ponderous, fabulously well scored and never failing, in their combined impact as one of the great symphonies of the 20th century, to pack an almighty punch. The orchestral playing is superb, Abbado's conducting is exemplary and Margaret Price's singing is sublime. What a terrible shame she never recorded the 7 early songs with the same team. There is not much singing in the Lulu suite but what there is, is heart wrenching and very lovely. If you want a Rolls Royce version of (very) late Romantic angst then you could hardly expect more than this.