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This release unites on record for the first time America’s reigning star soprano Renée Fleming and its premier string quartet, The Emersons, to take us on a journey into the twilight world of Vienna in the 1920s and 30s in music imbued with late romanticism and burgeoning modernism.

Berg’s Lyric Suite is a work of intricate, complexity believed to have a secret dedication and to outline a secret programme relating to Berg’s affair with Franz Werfel’s sister (Werfel was married to Mahler’s widow, Alma). Theodor Adorno called the work a “latent opera” and in its sixth and final movement, the Largo desolato, Berg introduces the soprano voice and quotes Wagner’s Tristan motif to evoke his doomed, impossible love.

This was still secessionist Vienna: a world of paintings by Klimt, psychoanalysis by Freud and a musical life where you could hear Bruno Walter conduct Mahler and Clemens Krauss lead the operas of Richard Strauss.

Egon Wellesz’s highly expressive setting of Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning was one of the last works he completed before leaving Austria ahead of the Anschluss in 1938. It is heard here in its original version for soprano and string quartet. Barrett-Browning was one of the most popular English poets of the Victoria era, although Wellesz turned to German translations by Rainer Maria Rilke for his setting.

Track Listing:

I. Allegretto gioviale
II. Andante amoroso
III. Allegro misterioso - Trio estatico
IV. Adagio appassionato
V. Presto delirando - Tenebroso
VI. Largo desolato
Largo desolato
1. Un es geschah mir einst
2. Nur drei jedoch in Gottes ganzen All vernahmen es
3. Du bist da droben im Palast begehrt
4. Ich denk an dich
5. Mir scheint, das Angesicht der Welt verging
Komm, süsser Tod

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  • Store location: Upper Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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