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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Gurrelieder (1901-1911)
to a text by Jens Peter JACOBSEN in translation by Robert Franz Arnold
Gary Lakes (ten) - Waldemar
Eva Marton (sop) - Tove
Florence Quivar (mezzo) - Waldtaube
John Cheek (bass) - Bauer
Jon Garrison (ten) - Klaus the Jester
Hans Hotter (narrator)
New York Choral Artists/Joseph Flummerfelt
New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
rec. 1992, New York. DDD
SONY ESSENTIAL CLASSICS SB2K89902 [2CDs: 58.47+47.46]


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 Waldtaube.

Rob Barnett

 



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