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More lurid excesses courtesy of Zemlinsky and Eine florentinische Tragödie, based on a morally repugnant unfinished play by Oscar Wilde, with equally queasy music to match. A disenchanted wife takes a lover who is murdered by her husband, at which point she experiences a rush of admiring lust for her spouse. The hugely accomplished but lurid music is akin to the most excessive and obvious Straussian effects written larger and even purpler. Bertrand de Billy conducts this live performance (Vienna, 2010) with unabashed passion and brio. As wife and lover, Heidi Brunner and Charles Reid are both very good, but overshadowed by the much larger role of the husband, sung with immense vigour, stamina and vocal glamour by Wolfgang Koch. It’s all rather like being bludgeoned over the head with relentless noise and hysteria, but anyone interested in Strauss’s oft-overshadowed contemporaries will find this worth investigating and the recording makes a strong case for the piece in all its gory glory.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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