- Lyrische Symphonie for soprano, baritone & orchestra, Op. 18
- Lyric Suite, for orchestra (arr. from Nos.2-4 of string quartet version)
The Houston Symphony's reading of Alexander von Zemlinsky's "Lyric Symphony" may be among the finest ever recorded, and still it's not the best performance on the disc. That honor goes to the performance of three movements from Alban Berg's "Lyric Suite" arranged for string orchestra, a tonally sumptuous and emotionally expressive account that rivals the very best recorded versions. In the Houston Orchestra, German conductor Hans Graf seems to have found a kindred musical spirit; the synergy between the conductor and orchestra infuses these performances with a marvelous combination of intensity and precision. In particular, the voluptuous playing of Houston's superb string section is enormously affecting. Zemlinsky's "Lyric Symphony" has always posed something of a problem for audiences. On one hand, the seven-movement symphonic song cycle for soprano, baritone, and orchestra reminds some listeners too much of Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde," while on the other hand, few listeners can actually remember Zemlinsky's melodies after his work ends. With the sterling contributions of soprano Twyla Robinson and baritone Roman Trekel, Graf and the Houston not only enliven a fin de siècle love story in symphonic form, they actually succeed in making the work memorable. Still, Zemlinsky's chromatic erotic epic cannot match the impact and power of Berg's dodecaphonic masterpiece. Recorded in sound that is clear but slightly too dry, this disc deserves to be heard by any fan of the pieces or the composers.