Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles’s performance of Ernst Krenek’s 1929 song cycle at the Wigmore Hall in January 2015 was one of highlights of the last classical year in London.
Having their studio recording of this Alpine travelogue available now on CD is a real treat, and confirms Krenek’s cycle as one of the great early modernist additions to the German lieder tradition. From the start, the Reisebuch aus den Österreichischen Alpen is clearly a work composed against the background of that whole tradition. Schubert is obviously the starting point, but, stylistically, the 20 songs span the whole of the 19th and early 20th centuries, colonising the atonal territory of the Second Viennese School as comfortably as they evoke the folk-song settings of an earlier generation.
Boesch and Vignoles evoke this kaleidoscope of styles with fabulous naturalness and fierce dramatic intensity when needed. They give equally idiomatic performances of the group of four songs by Zemlinsky that are included as a fill-up. The Krenek cycle justifies the disc on its own, but the extras are so well done, no one is going to complain at having them.