Begun in the year 1900, amidst the art nouveau curlicues of Klmt and the Jugendstil, Schoberg's grand cantata is written in a lush, late-romantic style indebted to Wagner and Mahler and pre-dating his pioneering atonal works. This setting of the medieval Danish legend of Gurre Castle - a love triangle between King Waldemar, his mistress Tove and a jealous Queen - gains an innovative new dimension in this first-ever staging of the work, directed by Pierre Audi. This album marks the first ever collaborationRead more between DNO Artistic Director Pierre Audi and Music Director Marc Albrecht. This production was the first staging of Schonberg's mammoth cantata with gargantuan orchestra, five soloists, speaker and multiple choruses.
This release captures the very first attempt to stage the piece; it makes for fascinating viewing. The Dutch National Opera's artistic director wisely chooses to keep his narrative loose and subjective, emphasizing the piece's affinity to Wagner's Tristan as to Parsifal.
The individual songs of Waldemat and Tove in the first part are straightforwardly done, but the two are seen addressing one another in a languorous, long-paragraphed dialog rather than expressing themselves in isolation. Once Tove disappears, we are more than ever aware of the whole piece as Waldemar's own journey - dreamlike, psychologically complex, and ambiguous, up to and including the final chorus, which is all the more moving for the allegorical richness it takes on.
Burkhard Fritz carries the dramatic weight admirably, and Emily Magee is a moving, entranced, and enchanting Tove. Anna Larsson is a sternly impassioned Waldtaube here, and the character's long scene is a highlight of the staging. The detailed, virtuoso playing of the orchestra and Albrecht's clear-sighted but impassioned conducting need far no comparison with the best audio-only versions. A very impressive achievement all round.
Gurreliederby Arnold Schoenberg Performer:
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Tenor),
Sunnyi Melles (Spoken Vocals),
Anna Larsson (Alto),
Burkhard Fritz (Tenor),
Emily Magee (Soprano),
Markus Marquardt (Bass)
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,
Dutch National Opera Chorus,
Kammerchor des ChorForum Essen
Period: 20th Century Written: 1900-1911; Vienna, Austria