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CHAN 10204
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CHAN 10204

Zemlinsky: Symphony in B flat major/ Prelude to 'Es war einmal'/Sinfonietta/'Der König Kandaules'

The Classical Shop
release date: May 2004

Originally recorded in 2003


Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Antony Beaumont


Dvorak Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague


Dominic Fyfe

(other works)

Milan Publicky

(other works)

Ralph Couzens

(Prelude to Act III of Der König Kandaules)


Oldrich Slezak

(Studio Rudolfinum)

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 75:10
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Symphony in B flat major (1897)

  in B-Dur - en si bémol majeur  
1 I Sostenuto - Allegro (schnell, mit Feuer und Kraft) 14:29
2 II Nicht zu schnell (Scherzando) 8:59
3 III Adagio 10:25
4 IV Moderato 11:37
  original premiere recording  

Prelude to 'Es war einmal. . .' (Original Version, 1899)


Sinfonietta, Op. 23 (1934)

6 I Sehr lebhaft (Presto die Viertel), ganze Takte 6:58
7 II Ballade. Sehr gemessen (poco adagio), doch nicht schleppend 6:13
8 III Rondo. Sehr lebhaft 5:22

Prelude to Act III of 'Der König Kandaules' (1936)

  Orchestrated by Antony Beaumont  
This is the third volume in Antony Beaumont’s acclaimed Zemlinsky survey.

Antony Beaumont is a world authority on the composer. His previous interpretations of Zemlinsky’s works were universally admired for their authenticity and sheer musicality. Gramophone noted: ‘No one has studied these scores with more sympathy than Antony Beaumont…’

This is the only available recording of the original version of the Prelude to Zemlinsky’s opera Es war einmal….

The disc features an illuminating programme of contrasts. Where the Symphony in B flat major surges with energy, brilliance and youthful selfassurance, the Sinfonietta, composed nearly four decades later, glows in mellow colours, with undertones of joy and anxiety, pride and sorrow, hope and self-doubt. Though almost identical in their structures, the two operatic preludes inhabit similarly contrasting worlds of light and shade.

Zemlinsky composed his Symphony in B flat major in 1897 and entered it for the Beethoven Prize of 1898 (a competition inaugurated and partly financed by Brahms) where it won joint first prize. Behind the apparent conservatism of the work, the score already points to the composer who was to find his voice during the radical years of the following century.

Whereas the symphony pays respect to the classicist tradition, the opera Es war einmal… (Once upon a time…), composed in 1897–99, exudes a rarefied perfume of art nouveau. The libretto follows the storyline of Grimm’s King Drosselbart, the saga of a haughty Princess duped and humbled by an unknown Prince. Dramatically, the Prelude was not ideally placed and Mahler (who conducted the opera’s premiere) requested that the stormy middle section be cut. For this recording the original version has been restored.

Hoping for a world premiere of his opera Der König Kandaules in New York, Zemlinsky set sail, in December 1938, for America. However, when it became apparent that the opera contained a nude scene, and what was generally perceived to be a ‘depraved’ libretto, support for a performance at The Metropolitan Opera was withdrawn. Though one of the composer’s most gripping stage works, the opera was not premiered until 1992, in Hamburg, when the Zeminlinsky ‘renaissance’ was well under way.

Zemlinsky composed his Sinfonietta in 1934 in the light of his experience of the rise of Nazism. Its outer movements are at once a celebration of life and a dance of death. For all its bravura – and this is Zemlinsky’s most virtuosic score – the music speaks intimately.

'The unique sound of the Czech Philharmonic proves ideal for this music' the Czech recording teamcaptures its performances with all the richness the Prague Rudolfinium has to offer.'
BBC Music Magazine

This Chandos recording is glorious… once again the playing of the great Czech orchestra is stupendous…

'The Czech Philharmonic is the perfect orchestra for such an approach, and it plays with cleanly honed elan. Good as the James Conlon's reading is, it is Beaumont who convinces me that Zemlinsky's Symphony is a major work.'
American Record Guide

M Vanhoof

J Cowley