Two gargantuan late-Romantic Austrian works are coupled on this very rare recording by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin. The recording had limited release in Germany and this is its first international release.
Mahler’s Third Symphony is the longest symphony by any composer to be part of the basic repertoire and, at first, had subtitles attached to each of the movements. But the composer had a distrust for programmatic music and by the time the symphony was published and premiered, these verbal explications had been removed.
Mahler and Schoenberg met in 1904 at a rehearsal of Schoenberg’s string sextet Verklärte Nacht. The older composer became a defender of Schoenberg’s work, conducting it when he could. Schoenberg, whose outlook on Mahler’s work was at first unfavourable, was bowled over by the Third Symphony and regarded it as a work of genius. His own Pelleas und Melisande based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s play, is a gargantuan symphonic poem and was his first completed orchestral work. The orchestral forces (as with the Mahler Symphony) are huge, and although Schoenberg includes no vocal parts, the orchestra is handled with considerable bravura and includes 64 strings (plus two harps), 17 woodwinds, 18 brass and 8 percussion.
Pelleas und Melisande: symphonic poem for orchestra, Op. 5
Symphony No. 3 in D minor
Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano
Staats-und Domchor Berlin
Knabenchor an der Hochscule der Künste Berlin
(Chorus master: Christian Grube)
Frauen des Rundfunkchors Berlin
(Chorus master: Gerd Müller-Lorenz)
Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin
Recording Producer: Andrew Cornall
Balance Engineers: John Dunkerley, Philip Siney (Schoenberg); John Dunkerley, Simon Eadon, Krystof Jarosz (Mahler)
Recording Locations: Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin, Germany, January 1996 (Schoenberg); Konzerthaus Schauspielhaus, Berlin, Germany, June/August 1995 (Mahler)