Renate Behle (soprano), Roland Hermann (bass-baritone), Reiner Goldberg (tenor), Siegfried Lorenz (baritone), Celina Lindsay (soprano), Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stefan Soltesz (conductor)
Two years after the death of Alfred Henschke - better known by his pseudonym 'Klabund' - Alexander von Zemlinsky decided to use his play Der Kreiderkreis (The Chalk Circle) as the basis for an opera. He recast the five-act 'play after the Chinese' first as a two-act, later a three-act, version, and composed his opera in 1931-32. This blend of a fairy-tale Utopia, social criticism and 'Innerlichkeit' (inwardness) makes itself felt in Zemlinsky's music, which seeks to combine varied stylistic components. Chinese coloration appears in the orchestral scoring, which is enriched with gongs and other exotic-sounding instruments, while his melodies often avoid semi-tonal steps and so take on a pentatonic character. It was from his seventh and last completed opera that the then 61-year-old Zemlinsky hoped for the definitive breakthrough as an operatic dramatist. Sadly, it was struck down as 'degenerate' by the newly-arrived Nazis regime and plunged into an obscurity from which, thanks to this classic recording, it may now emerge.
CD 1-2 - Zemlinsky Der Kreidekreis