Schoenberg's late-romantic phase was crowned
by this lushly secular cantata which looks towards Korngold, Mahler
and Wagner. There is no trace of his unrelentingly exclusive ivory
tower at this stage. As for this performance the reservations
focus on the women's voices. Orchestral contributions are superbly
executed and the Sony team do the sound-picture great justice
with dripping and diaphanous impressionism put across just as
well as the powerful choral singing (CD2 tr. 4). Listen also to
the guttural bark of the brass at 3.10 in 'Herrgott weiß
du, was du tatest' and the restless sinister hell-ride of Die
wilde jagd (CD2 tr. 3). The solo voices are very pleasingly
placed in the recording picture.
Lakes' Waldemar is nasal but you soon tune in
to his imaginative and flammable way with the music and words.
Marton is not ideal with her matronly 'big guns' tone no-one can
convince me that she is anything like the maiden Jacobsen intended.
Quivar is also rather squally in her Sterne jubeln. We
need fresher voices less prone to operatic vibrato. A good version
of Gurrelieder needs the same qualities we look for in Pfitzner's
Von Deutsches Seele or Bantock's Omar Khayyam. There
must be an even and unfaltering note production and an all-pervasive
freshness. This is not what I hear in Quivar's singing when she
reaches the words 'verstrickt in der Tiefe Tang' where the bass
end of her register is really tested. In fairness Lakes meets
the bill perfectly - one of the great Waldemars with a heroic
Mahlerian heft to his voice. Listen to him in the 'Der hahn erhebt
den Kopf zur Kraht' for all the world as if he is launching the
first song in Mahler's Das Lied von Der Erde.
By the way, Gurrelieder was premiered
in Vienna's Großer Musikvereinssaal on 23 February 1913
with Zemlinsky conducting.
This 2 CD set is offered as part of the Essential
Classics series at bargain price in a single width case. No corners
are cut. The text is given in full with a good English translation.
A very well recorded version then and attractive
at bargain price. It has a great Waldemar but a flawed Tove and