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Zemlinsky: Lyrische Symphonie (Maazel, 1981)


“Lyric Symphony, in Seven Songs after Poems by Rabindranath Tagore, for Orchestra, Soprano and Baritone (Lyrische Symphonie in sieben Gesängen nach Gedichten von Rabrindranath Tagore für Orchester, eine Sopran- und eine Baritonstimme)”, Op. 18, is a symphony with vocals like a song cycle, which was composed between 1922 and 1923 by Alexander von Zemlinsky, an Austrian composer and conductor, who acted as a kind of bridge between the late Romantics and Second Viennese School under the influence of Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg.


Performed by Julia Varady (soprano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Berliner Philharmoniker, and Lorin Maazel (conductor).

The album was digitally recorded in 1981 and was released by Deutsche Grammophon in 1982.

It consists of seven movements, in which a soprano and a baritone alternate singing every movement.

The sung texts are taken from the German translation of “The Gardener” (1915), English prose poems by Bengali poet, philosopher and composer Rabindranath Tagore.

It is a sensual and decadent composition incorporating the elements of atonality and expressionism. It shows the influences of Mahler’s “The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde)” (1908) and Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Lieder” (1900–1911).

It is characterized by its colorful orchestration and effective use of the glissando in strings and trombones. 

Alban Berg quoted the third movement of the composition in the fourth movement of his “Lyric Suite” (1925–1926).

As compared to the romantic interpretations by Riccardo Chailly (1993) and Giuseppe Sinopoli (1995), Maazel’s interpretation is more modern and close to the Second Viennese School.

Zemlinsky: Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18 – 6. Sehr mäßige Viertel (Andante) "Vollende denn das…