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Schoenberg: Accentus
Schoenberg: Accentus
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4.0 out of 5 stars Album of relatively mellow Schoenberg works, focused on the chorus, with a few surprises, January 11, 2015
This review is from: Schoenberg: Accentus (Audio CD)
In general, most classical music listeners would not put the words "Arnold Schoenberg" and "mellow", or "mellifluous", in the same sentence, given his reputation as the 12-tone ogre of classical music, with mental exceptions for works like "Verklarte Nacht", "Pelleas und Melisande", and "Gurre-Lieder". Yet even past those works from earlier in his career, not all of Schoenberg's music was harsh 12-tonery. This album illustrates that point, as it collects mainly unaccompanied choral works which are generally easier to listen to than the stereotype of his strict 12-tone works.

The first selection provides the album's first surprise, namely that it is the op. 13 motet "Friede auf Erden" (Peace on Earth) in a version for choir and small orchestra. Until I heard this recording, I didn't know that such a version of the work existed, as I only knew about the unaccompanied choral version of op. 13. This is one of Schoenberg's early works, so it is not from even his free atonal period. The harmonic language is generally tonal, but the textures are quite thick for the chorus even in the unaccompanied version. Some moments in the orchestration do seem to touch the world of the op. 9 Chamber Symphony (also featured on this recording). IMHO, in the orchestral version, the argument isn't necessarily clarified, and if anything, it seems harder to discern the words. I gave it a second listen to see if it got easier to hear with the orchestra. (Overall, it didn't, much, again IMHO.) The unaccompanied version is track 9 on the album, and finishes in a slightly faster time (about 21 seconds less) compared to the version with orchestra.

The other surprise is the second track, an arrangement by Franck Krawczyk of the 3rd movement of Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16, the Farben movement, for unaccompanied chorus. Krawczyk has made this arrangement purely in terms of musical tones, i.e. no words. The use of chorus gives a more mellifluous tone on the ear compared to an orchestra, to be sure, but perhaps this remains more as a curiosity.

The Drei Volksliedsatze (Three Folksongs) and one movement, "Verbundenheit" (Solidarity) from the op. 35 Six Pieces for male chorus, show Schoenberg as his most approachable, with any difficult dissonance worlds away. This contrasts with the final two works on the album, his op. 50a "Dreimal Tausend Jahre" (Thrice a Thousand Years) and op. 50b "De Profundis". Schoenberg did use serial technique in op. 50a in his choice of tone rows, and while there is some harmonic crunchiness as a result, it's not nearly as extreme as op. 50b, which is by far the most harmonically advanced and avant-garde sounding work on this album. Schoenberg incorporates 'Sprechstimme' more here than anywhere in the other selections, for one.

The last selection to mention is a purely instrumental work, the Chamber Symphony No. 1, op. 9, from around his 'free atonal' period, which receives an energetic and forward-driving performance from the Ensemble Intercontemporain and conductor Jonathan Nott, who also provide the instrumental accompaniment in the alternative op. 13 version. Throughout the choral works, the choir Accentus sing well, with solid leadership from their conductor Laurence Equilbey. (For the record, for those who don't already know, Laurence Equilbey is female. In French, the first name Laurence can apply to both women and men. Equilbey also happens to look quite a bit like a French version of Emma Thompson, if that means anything.)

If you find this recording, it's worth a listen, especially given that recordings of Schoenberg's choral music don't seem to be very plentiful.

Charles Lucien Lambert Sr, Lucien-Léon Guillaume Lambert Jr: Ouverture de Brodéliande and other works
Charles Lucien Lambert Sr, Lucien-Léon Guillaume Lambert Jr: Ouverture de Brodéliande and other works
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enterprising album of works by father and son from the Creole Romantic school of 19th century New Orleans, January 11, 2015
Naxos issued several albums in the early 2000's which were dedicated to music from 19th century New Orleans, by composers referred to as the "Creole Romantic" school, and performed by musicians from the Hot Springs Music Festival, under the overall direction of Richard Rosenberg. This is one of those albums, dedicated to the father and son composers Charles Lucien Lambert Sr. (~1828-1896) and Lucien-Leon Guillaume Lambert Jr. (1858-1945). The division of works on the album is as follows (with rough translations of some titles):

(a) Lambert Sr. (father), 6 selections:
Track 2, Bresiliana (for piano)
Track 8, L'Amazone (for piano)
Track 9, Le Castillian (for piano)
Track 10, L'Americaine (for piano)
Track 12, Le Calabrais (for piano)
Track 13, Variations and finale on the the air 'Au Clair de la Lune' (for piano)

(b) Lambert Jr. (son), 5 works:
Track 1, Ouverture de Broceliande (orchestrated by Richard Rosenberg)
Track 3, Hymnis (for voice, violin & piano)
Track 4: Creole Sketches on Collected Themes of L.M. Gottschalk (for 2 pianos)
Tracks 5-7: Prelude, fugue & postlude (for piano)
Track 11: Bird Songs (for soprano & piano)

From both father and son, the works are mainly spirited and lighter-hearted in nature. IMHO, I wouldn't necessarily call any of them neglected masterworks, though, pleasant listening as they are overall. Likewise, the performances are generally good, certainly never less than decent, though there are occasionally heavy-handed moments in the piano playing.

My own overall inclination is a 3.5 star rating. However, given the rarity and general lack of exposure of this repertoire, for the sake of enterprise on the artists' and Naxos' part, I'll round up to 4 stars.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 / Suite No.3 in G
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 / Suite No.3 in G
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3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Tchaikovsky coupling of a warhorse & a much less familiar work, January 10, 2015
This CD came with the September 2005 issue of BBC Music Magazine. It pairs two Tchaikovsky works, his very popular Piano Concerto No. 1 with the much less often played Suite No. 3. The recording of the concerto is from a live performance at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales, on 9/24/2003, while the Suite is a studio recording from 7/31/2003, recorded at the Ulster Hall, Belfast. The pianist in the concerto, Alexander Melnikov, was a member of BBC Radio 3s New Generation Artists scheme from 2000 to 2002, so that this recording took place just after his term in the scheme ended.

In the concerto, Melnikov takes the 1st movement at a quite stately tempo at times, to give an overall timing near 21 minutes (20:55). The spacious pacing threatens to rob the work of its pulse more than once as a result, and dissipates dramatic tension as a result. Perhaps in compensation, he takes the Prestissimo section of the second movement at quite a fair lick, which potentially results in the opposite problem there. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and guest conductor Alexander Melnikov provide OK support. Overall, my rating is in the 2.5-3 star range here, no real revelations here, especially given all the competing recordings out there. However, given the nature of the ending, barring any obvious train wrecks in performance, audiences are always happy to hear this concerto, as is evident from the applause at the end of this performance.

The Suite No. 3 has a lot less competition by comparison, and here features the Ulster Orchestra and another guest conductor, Vladimir Altschuler. The first 3 movements receive a pretty straight, no fuss interpretation. The relatively famous final movement, the Theme and Variations (once choreographed by Balanchine), gets a slightly more idiosyncratic interpretation, with some of the more famous variations pushed at a slightly faster tempo compared to what I'm used to hearing. The Ulster Orchestra do a decent job here, and its worth sparing the ensemble a thought at this time, because they almost went under financially in late 2014. Overall, my rating here is roughly 3.5 stars. This averages out the CD to 3 stars.

If you got this CD with the magazine, it makes for perfectly OK listening in the car, or perhaps in the kitchen. The Suite will perhaps be the novelty for most listeners, while there's lots of competition in the concerto and this should by no means be your only recording.

Jean Françaix: Onze Variations sur un theme de Haydn, Mozart new-look, Musique pour faire plaisir, Hommage a l'ami Papageno, Quasi Improvvisando, Danses exotiques
Jean Françaix: Onze Variations sur un theme de Haydn, Mozart new-look, Musique pour faire plaisir, Hommage a l'ami Papageno, Quasi Improvvisando, Danses exotiques
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lighter later music of Jean Francaix for winds, mainly based on the music of others, January 10, 2015
This 1987 Wergo album of music by Jean Francaix focuses on music for wind ensembles, with piano, double bass and/or percussion as needed. The dates for the works are as follows, in order on the album (with rough translated titles):

1. 11 Variations on a Theme of Haydn (1982)
2. "Mozart new-look" (1983)
3. "Musique pour faire plaisir" (Music to make pleasure; 1984)
4. "Hommage to the friend Papageno" (1984)
5. "Quasi improvvisando" (1978)
6. "Exotic Dances" (1981)

The first 5 works use material by other composers as the starting inspirations, as follows:

1. Main theme of the slow movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 94
2. Mozart, Serenade from "Don Giovanni"
3. 3 works of Francis Poulenc
4. Themes associated with Papageno from Mozart's "The Magic Flute"
5. Paul Lincke, 'Berliner Luft'

In general, Francaix wrote music of a cheerful and cheeky bent, so that made him the successor to Offenbach and Poulenc in that aspect of the French tradition. That borderline-snarky ethos makes itself felt particularly in the Haydn work, no surprise there, which doesn't go for any particular subtlety in its treatment of the "surprise" theme. In keeping with the spirit of Poulenc, his treatment of the Poulenc material likewise retains its cheeky tone.

The two works based on Mozart bring in non-wind instruments, featuring a solo double bass for the "Mozart new-look" and piano in the Papageno homage. Mozart new-look retains a sprightly air, with what sounds like a dash of Carmen at its start. The Papageno homage starts in a slower and more mellow mood, but then shifts into perkier gear, with alternating slower and faster selections. Francaix's riff on 'Berliner Luft' takes a while to reach the theme, which reflects perhaps his initial inability to remember the theme after a musician in Germany had hummed it to him.

The "Exotic Dances" are the one work of the album that use totally original material by Francaix himself. The movement titles are based mainly on Latin American or South American titles, with 'Rock'n'Roll' put at the end as the longest movement. The 8 movements are all quite short, none lasting longer than 2 minutes. Yet strangely, in spite of that, this work feels rather diffuse and bitty, rather than being concise and packed with invention. The paradox here is that the other works, based on music by others, seem to convey a longer musical line than Francaix does with his own material.

The Mainz Wind Ensemble do a fine job throughout, with Ichiro Noda taking the doublebass part in "Mozart new-look" and Francaix himself joining the group for the Papageno homage, and acquitting himself nicely in his 70s. For those who recognize names of orchestral musicians, its interesting to see the name of Stefan Dohr as one of the two French horn players, as Dohr went on to join the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

It also must be noted that the running time of this album is just over 44 minutes, part of the reason for the overall rating here. In sum, this album might be one more for aficionados of Jean Francaix rather than those starting out on his music. Its also more an album of chips from his workbench rather than any major composition, his own lowering of grand expectations in the liner notes notwithstanding.


4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative juxtaposition of contemporary piano works with the JS Bach keyboard toccatas, December 7, 2014
This review is from: Toccatas (Audio CD)
This 2-CD album takes as its starting point the seven toccatas for keyboard of J.S. Bach, performed on piano by Dutch pianist Ivo Janssen, and intersperses them in between contemporary works by composers for the concert hall (e.g. Louis Andriessen, Gijs van Dijk, Christina Viola Oorebeek) or jazz musicians (e.g. Alan Laurillard, Michiel Braam, Michiel Borstlap). The notes remind us that the root of the word 'toccata' is the Italian verb 'toccare', which means 'to touch'. The modern stereotype of a toccata for piano seems to be a briskly paced movement with lots of notes, giving pianists a chance to show off their digital dexterity (when successful).

Regarding the Bach toccatas, given my own personal lack of familiarity with these works, Janssen's performances seem solid, with perhaps the occasional hesitating passage here and there. But the real reason for this albums existence is, of course, the contemporary works. Louis Andriessen's 'Image de Moreau', the first work on the album, has a French feel at the start, somewhat in the manner of Ravel, but still bears the Andriessen stamp of his version of what one could call minimalism. Gijs van Dijk's Toccata No. 1 is rather busy sounding, in keeping with my oversimplified description of a toccata, although the last movement does slow the pace a bit.

The works by Laurillard (Nowhere), Braam (Tivocctajansen) and Borstlap (Toccata 10, Toccata 14) freely incorporate jazz styles, no surprise given these composers backgrounds in jazz. Laurillard's work does have a stop-and-start quality about it, when Janssen isn't dispatching cascades of notes. Bream and Borstlap work in some blues-tinged passages. Interestingly Borstlap notes how he used a computer to capture his improvisations, instead of conventionally writing down music, but that the computer sometimes misinterpreted his intentions at times, e.g. his staccato passage came out of the computer playback as legato, and even vice versa.

Leo Samana's Toccata III is perhaps the most overtly classical-sounding of the contemporary works, and also the most humorous, in its use of classical traditions and idiom in a pastiche manner. For those very reasons, IMHO, it comes off as the most enjoyable of the contemporary works on the album. At the polar opposite in style is 'Recalling Chimes' by Vanessa Lamm, USA-raised but resident in the Netherlands (at the time of the album), which is overall the slowest-paced of the contemporary works on this album. This work is probably the most stereotypically modern in its sound-world, with the pianist using a marimba mallet and vocalizing at a few moments. This work does have a surprise ending, after a few bars of silence.

Thijs Dercksen's 'Overstag' has moments which sound almost like a pop song, which makes more sense when you actually hear the work. Finally, Oorebeck's 'Tremors and Quakes' is the most eclectic in style of the contemporary works, with its share of stops and starts, and contrasts between sections of motor rhythms and more modernist-sounding passages.

Throughout the contemporary works, Janssen performs well, no surprise since he was the instigator of the compositions. While your own reaction to the contemporary works will vary, they may not make you forget Bach's own works. But for sheer imagination, this album is worth a listen, not least also because it is another example of how well Radio Netherlands documented the concert hall music of its own country on recordings.

William Alwyn: Symphony No. 1 / London Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted By The Composer
William Alwyn: Symphony No. 1 / London Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted By The Composer
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4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the orchestra and conducting; for the work itself, well...., December 7, 2014
William Alwyn (1905-1982) wrote 5 symphonies, or as he himself regarded them, 4 + 1. His Symphony No. 1, premiered in 1950, provided the core material for his first 4 symphonies, as he reportedly used material from his 1st Symphony as seed material for the next 3. Throughout his career, Alwyn used a basically neo-romantic, strongly tonal idiom, and this symphony is an excellent case in point.

Alwyn's 1st Symphony is the most conventional in format of his symphonies, in its four-movement design. It is very well constructed, nicely laid out for the orchestra, and has a good sense of pace to keep one's attention. The problem with the work, IMHO, is that all the tonal fragments rarely add up to give any really compelling themes or melodies that Elgar, Vaughan Williams or Walton more readily provided in their symphonies. One theme in the 2nd movement scherzo sort of comes close, but unfortunately still doesn't amount to much of a tune, again IMHO. Likewise, the rather bombastic coda in the finale has a sort of fife-and-drum quality that I associate with some of Malcolm Arnold's music.

What is not a concern here is the quality of the performance and recording, both very fine indeed. The London Philharmonic Orchestra give a full-blooded reading, with the composer directing the proceedings quite well from the rostrum. The ensemble sound is very robust and beefy, if such a description makes sense. Likewise, Alwyn was quite a polymath in his artistic talents, and provides a very well-written liner note, giving a potted autobiography and quick analysis of his symphony. He also lays out his compositional philosophy as follows:

"An artist can only learn from the truly great. Certainly they will leave their marks on him, but even the great themselves bear the impress of their predecessors. Originality does not come by rejection of one's heritage but through its acceptance; individuality (or style) is founded on the past. And I believe with Turgenev that 'it is possible to be original without being eccentric'."

Of course, your own personal taste may vary regarding your opinion of this work. Overall, if you have an interest in Alwyn's music and find this recording, you need not hesitate on grounds of quality of performance and recording. BTW, you should also be aware that Lyrita has reissued these original recordings on CD, with Alwyn's Symphony No. 1 coupled to his Symphony No. 4.

The Romantic Era In The Netherlands
The Romantic Era In The Netherlands
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice collection of 19th century Dutch chamber-scaled works, December 7, 2014
The NM Classics label did a wonderful job of documenting the music of the Netherlands on recordings, and this is another example of that, collecting 3 works from the 19th century for different instrumental ensembles together. The first work on the recording is the Allegro for four string quartets, from 1845, by Johannes Bernardus van Bree (1801-1857). Its a nice curtain-raiser, with the spirit of Felix Mendelssohn hovering not too far away.

The other two works use wind ensembles of different dimensions. The Serenade for wind septet, op. 14, by Julius Rontgen, dates from 1876, and is reminiscent of the Brahms serenades in its overall sound world, and feeling of relaxed charm. (Speaking of Brahms, as an aside, the notes state that Brahms apparently nicked, unconsciously, a theme from the first movement of Rontgen's serenade for his own Symphony No. 2, which dates from the summer of 1877.) One difference, however, between Rontgen's work and the Brahms serenades is that Rontgen's serenade tends to sprawl rather a bit, and lacks Brahms' structural tautness. For example, Rontgen's 2nd movement scherzo repeats its opening material several times more than is necessary, and in general is rather repetitive, if in an easy-going way. It should also be noted that this same recorded performance is available from NM Classics 92096, an all-Julius Rontgen album.

The 3rd work on the album is the Quintet in A for winds by Johannes Meinardus Coenen (1824-1899). This is perhaps the real find of this album, as it is a high-spirited and energetic work, very divertimento-like in character. Perhaps it is somewhat garrulous, and might not have as strong melodies as you would hear from a Mozart or Brahms work in the same style. But Coenen's works has a constantly happy spring in its step, and if nothing else, is less prone to repetition than that second movement of the Rontgen.

All the performances are good and solid, from musicians of the Viotta Ensemble, which in turn consists of musicians drawn from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Viktor Liberman, a former concertmaster of the orchestra, directs the de facto string ensemble in the van Bree, while the wind players in the Rontgen and Coenen works are on their own, of course, without conductor.

Obviously no one album of music and encompass the whole music of a country in a given time period, so that the title 'The Romantic Era in the Netherlands' for this album may be more than a bit hyperbolic. But these 3 works make a nice sampler of that historical era in a country somewhat off the beaten path for classical music programming, and again shows how nicely the now-defunct NM Classics label documented concert hall music of the Netherlands.

20th Century Piano Sonatas
20th Century Piano Sonatas
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine live recording of a piano recital with an offbeat program, November 30, 2014
In the liner notes to this album, pianist Nikolai Petrov pretty much lays out his recital philosophy on the line: "For me, a programme made up of compositions by Ravel, Bach, Chopin or Mussorgsky is not very interesting, and rather resembles the fast food they serve at McDonald's." In keeping with that mindset, this recital, recorded live from a single performance at the Moscow Conservatory on April 22, 1991, contains works by none of those 4 composers, but rather, 4 other composers where only one might be considered borderline-standard repertoire.

The 1st work on the recital is the Piano Sonata No. 3 of Erwin Schulhoff, which is in an unconventional 5 movements. Its style interestingly resembles that of Sergei Prokofiev in places, in its motoric energy and occasionally sardonic tone, although this writer isn't able to say how much Schulhoff knew of Prokofiev's music, if any. Schulhoff had a penchant for writing multi-movement works (sonatas, string quartets) with relatively concise time-length movements, and that is again the case here, with the 5 movements totaling just over 18 minutes. But that reflects likewise his gift of saying what he had to say, and then moving on. Recordings of Schulhoff's Piano Sonata No. 3 remain quite rare, so that this alone gives this recording particular notice.

The Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6, first performed in April 1940, is perhaps the closest selection in this recital to standard repertoire, as one of Prokofiev's so-called "war sonatas". Interestingly, Petrov takes a fairly restrained, straightforward approach to the work, generally resisting urges to pound the piano into submission. To this listener, it seemed that on an initial hearing, Petrov seemed to lose the pulse at times in the slow movement. Re-listening diminished this impression, in fairness.

Likewise, the 1924 Sonata by Igor Stravinsky gets a clean, no-fuss reading. Petrov has included one contemporary work, the Piano Sonata No. 2 of Nikolai Kapustin, to close his recital. Kapustin has acquired a reputation as a composer of classical piano works in a jazz idiom, where the music sounds improvised in the style of jazz piano, but in fact he has written out every note and detail in these compositions. Petrov claims to have acquired an interest in jazz through the old Voice of America broadcasts by Willis Conover (misspelled "Cannover" in the notes). Petrov shows a relaxed familiarity with jazz idioms in this performance.

The one debit of the presentation, which is admittedly subjective, is that the piano tends to have a somewhat pingy sound, which gives a somewhat small-scale feel to the proceedings. Your own listening mileage may vary, of course. But that personal reservation aside, this is a nice program that goes well off the beaten path, and is worth a listen on that ground alone.

Peter Schat: Chamber Music / Inscripties / Polon
Peter Schat: Chamber Music / Inscripties / Polon
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good compilation of works by Peter Schat for small-scale forces, November 30, 2014
This eclectic album collects 4 works by the Dutch composer Peter Schat (1935-2003) that operate on a smaller scale of musical forces involved, from early in his career and then jumping several decades on. Going chronologically in terms of composition, the earliest work, "Inscripties" (Inscriptions), op. 6, from 1959, is for solo piano. The liner notes (Dutch by Erik Voermans, English by Michael van Eekeren) note the affinity of the work with the music of Anton Webern, and that indeed comes through, in its fragmentary and somewhat aphoristic character (although arguably Webern probably would have written it shorter). The next work chronologically is his op. 11 "Improvisations and Symphonies", for wind quintet, from 1960, which Schat wrote following studies in London with Matyas Seiber. This work does have a slightly quirky and playful character, while still being strongly chromatic in the manner of the time and using serial techniques, even in the nominal 'improvisation' sections. Schat dedicated the final movement of the work to Seiber, after the death of Seiber in a car accident in South Africa in 1960.

The next work chronologically jumps to 1977, and is a song cycle for soprano and piano, "Kind en kraai" (Child and Crow), op. 26, set to texts by Harry Mulisch. There is an oblique sense of an homage to song cycles of Robert Schumann, but with much spikier harmonies, of course. In addition, the texts (which are given in Dutch only, no translations into English or anything else) contain an Oedipal subtext in treating the family relationships (father, mother, son) that would not have been a feature of a Schumann cycle. The most recent work on the album is the 1981 "Polonaise", op. 29, for solo piano, which Schat wrote with both his father and with the Solidarity labor union in Poland in mind. Although there doesnt seem to be anything particularly Polish about the idiom of the work, some of the transitional passages do seem reminiscent of Chopin. This work is certainly in a much more accessible idiom compared to the op. 9 and op. 11 works, and perhaps reflects Schat's final codifying of his harmonic theory ideas into what he called the 'Tone Clock' theory.

All of the performances on this recording are solid, from pianist Hakon Austbo in op. 9 and op. 29 on his own, and accompanying soprano Ellen Schuring in op. 26, to Schuring herself in op. 26 and the Van Gendt Quintet in op. 11. Likewise, the recording quality is good. If you have an interest in the music of Peter Schat, this album makes a good sampler of his more intimately scaled works.

Effi Briest by Fontane,Theodor. [1995] Paperback
Effi Briest by Fontane,Theodor. [1995] Paperback
by Theodor Fontane
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading along side "Madame Bovary" and "Anna Karenina", November 25, 2014
Perhaps the two most famous 19th century novels that examine the consequences for a woman of an adulterous affair are Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" and Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". This novel, "Effi Briest" by Theodor Fontane, is subtler than both, which may explain why it tends not to be as famous as the other two, although it deserves, at the least, an honorable third-place next to them among classic novels on this subject. "Effi Briest" is certainly less portentous than the others, and may well have the most lovable and adorable heroine of the three, because of her relatively spunky spirit by comparison. She's no saint in the novel to be sure, but she comes off as much warmer compared to Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. The novel is also perhaps much less melodramatic in its plot and treatment of the affair that leads to her ruin. Yet, more than the other two, one gets the sense that the punishment meted out to Effi Briest is truly out of proportion to the act, and that societal strictures are much more "villainous" in that respect. Likewise, Effi's ultimate fate is more realistic and poignant, less "over the top", compared to EB and AK, though no less final.

This paperback version is of the older Penguin Classics translation by Douglas Parmee, from the 1960's, who also contributes a very good foreword to this edition. Penguin Classics has a later paperback edition with a different translation. The translation reads well, keeping in mind that this is the only translation of this novel that I've read. If you know "Madame Bovary" and/or "Anna Karenina", then "Effi Briest" is definitely worth your time for a slightly different perspective on this particular literary theme.

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