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Penguin Guide, January 2009

This apt Naxos coupling of the two Symphonies that Zemlinsky wrote in the 1890s is drawn from two earlier Marco Polo discs, differently coupled. The Symphony 1 of 1892 moved from an amiably lyrical Allegro and a nicely pointed Scherzo to a measured, deeply expressive finale, anticipating the similarly lyrical last movements of Mahler in some of his Symphonies. The performance is not helped by the slightly distanced recording. The much Symphony 2 of 1897 makes a far sharper impact, both through the performance and the fuller, brighter recording. A slow introduction, brassily Wagnerian, lead to an urgently Scherzo and lyrical slow movement, again Wagnerian, based on a theme like an Austrian folk-tune, lead to a variation finale in strongly contrasted sections. It is fine work that richly deserves revival.

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