This release unites on record for the first time Americas reigning star soprano Renée Fleming and its premier string quartet, The Emersons, to take us on a journey into the twilight world of Vienna in the 1920s and 30s in music imbued with late romanticism and burgeoning modernism.
Bergs Lyric Suite is a work of intricate, complexity believed to have a secret dedication and to outline a secret programme relating to Bergs affair with Franz Werfels sister (Werfel was married to Mahler s widow, Alma). Theodor Adorno called the work a latent opera and in its sixth and final movement, the Largo desolato, Berg introduces the soprano voice and quotes Wagners Tristan motif to evoke his doomed, impossible love.
This was still secessionist Vienna: a world of paintings by Klimt, psychoanalysis by Freud and a musical life where you could hear Bruno Walter conduct Mahler and Clemens Krauss lead the operas of Richard Strauss.
Egon Welleszs highly expressive setting of Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning was one of the last works he completed before leaving Austria ahead of the Anschluss in 1938. It is heard here in its original version for soprano and string quartet. Barrett-Browning was one of the most popular English poets of the Victoria era, although Wellesz turned to German translations by Rainer Maria Rilke for his setting.
Renée Fleming is famed for her intense and luxurious (Evening Standard) performances of Richard Strauss and Korngold, Berg and Mahler. Her sumptuous sound is uniquely suited to this repertoire. As Edward Seckerson wrote of her fin de siècle recital at the Barbican in 2012: We were back in Viennas golden age and it seemed like that was where she had always belonged.