Prior to this 1981 Deutsche Grammophon recording by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Julia Varady with Lorin Maazel leading the Berliner Philharmoniker, there had been only one other recording of Alexander von Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony, a profoundly mediocre performance by Siegmund Nimsgern and Dorothy Dorow with Gabriele Ferro conducting the BBC Symphony. More than a dozen recordings of the work followed in a revival of interest in the heretofore neglected Austrian fin de siècle composer, including this 2009 reissue of the original Deutsche Grammophon version on Brilliant Classics. Fans of the composer and the work will be happy to see its return to the catalog. The husband and wife team of Fischer-Dieskau and Varady turn in passionately expressive performances befitting the work's erotic text and music, and even if Varady is a bit harsh in her upper register and Fischer-Dieskau is perhaps old for the part, they bring both artistic and personal insight to the music; who could better understand the vicissitudes of love described in the Lyric Symphony than a married couple? Maazel and the Berlin orchestra give them the kind of opulent accompaniment the work's sumptuous orchestral writing demands. DG's early digital sound is a tad disembodied, but very clear and present.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Lyrische Symphonie for soprano, baritone & orchestra, Op. 18|