This set of post-Romantic chamber pieces begins with Berg’s “Lyric Suite” which always – at first hearing – seems misnamed. It’s not all that lyrical until one listens more closely and the winding melodies reveal themselves. This CD has two versions of the final movement; the second is the rarely-heard alternate version which includes a soprano. This atonal part, with its wide leaps, is fiendishly difficult to sing but Ms. Fleming does a superb job, also adding subtle expressiveness. Wellesz’s “Sonnets” (from Elizabeth Barrett Browning) continue where Berg’s “Suite” leaves off; this is not really “tonal” or “atonal” but crosses freely between the two (of course, jazz does that also, but this sounds entirely different, so here I could invent the term “post-tonal”) – often with the vocal lines (and an instrumental lushness) reminiscent of late Mahler. The CD ends with a lullaby by Eric Zeisl (perhaps better known for a couple of film scores) – a tranquil ending to this beautiful CD.
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