Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jessye Norman Sings Die Nachtigall from Alban Berg's Sieben fruehe Lieder


This Saturday (Christmas Eve) marks the passing of Austrian composer Alban Berg (Feb. 9 1885 - Dec. 24 1935) 76 years ago. Berg, like Schoenberg and Webern, was an important exponent of the Second Viennese School and a master of serialism. But early in his career, he composed pieces in a highly tonal, Late Romantic style, such as his Sieben fruehe Lieder, a cycle often heard in recitals and is well represented on recordings. Of the seven songs, I am particularly fond of Die Nachtigall with its soaring melodic line and ingratiating harmonies. This song never fails to move me, especially when sung by a singer with as opulent a voice as Jessye Norman here. Her tone is so smooth, like dark mahogany, seemingly without edge - it really takes one's breath away, even if her mannerism is not to everyone's taste. The London Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez is equally exquisite.  This is a desert island performance for me.

Joseph K. So

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