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Posted March 16, 2011
Those familiar with Schoenberg's string quartets know the integral role that voice plays in the Second Quartet. That work receives an excellent, committed performance here by the Quatour Diotima and Sandrine Piau. Less known is the fact that Webern actually composed a seventh bagatelle in the opus 9 set with voice, and there is a version of the classic Berg Lyric Suite with voice in the last movement. Therein lies a tale. After the death of Berg's widow, scholars examined a copy of the score, with Berg's annotations, indicating a vocal line setting of one of Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, a coded love message to Hanna Fuchs, a woman with whom he was having an affair.
There is drama aplenty in all these works, and with Sandrine Plau, Marie Nicole Lemieux gives a wonderful account of the vocal writing in the Webern and Berg.
Those who might shy away from works with a shaky hold on traditional tonality should not fear. These are masterpieces in fantastic performances. Highly recommended!