One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Gurre-lieder for soloists, choirs and orchestra (1900-03/1910-11) [102:58]
Alwyn Mellor (soprano) - Tove; Anna Larsson (mezzo) - Waldtaube/Wood Dove; Stuart Skelton (tenor) - Waldemar; Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (tenor) - Klauss Narr/Klauss the Fool; James Creswell (bass) - Bauer/Peasant; Sir Thomas Allen (speaker)
Bergen Philharmonic Choir; Choir of Collegiūm Mūsicūm; Edvard Grieg Choir; Orphei Drängar Choir; Choir of Students of the Royal Northern College of Music
Musicians from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (The National Orchestra of Sweden)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Gardner
rec. live, Bergen, December 2015
CHANDOS CHSA5172(2) SACD [56:12 + 46:46]

Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder is firmly tonal and looks back to the Late-Romantic tradition; indeed scales its pinnacle. There's a strong Wagnerian influence - not Mahler nor Richard Strauss. Afterwards the composer was to turn his back on tonality and alienated the average music-lover in leading the way into the ‘new music’ that prevailed and dominated for much of the remainder of the twentieth century.

Schoenberg chose as the text for these orchestral songs, 'Songs of the Gurre' (Gurrelieder) by the Danish poet and novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-85), whose writings were much favoured by Frederick Delius. Put briefly, the work’s story concerns the 12th century King Waldemar of Denmark who lived in the castle of Gurre on the Danish coast, and who fell deeply and blindly in love with a beautiful young maiden called Tove. Unsurprisingly, his Queen was madly jealous, and she murdered Tove. Grief-stricken, Waldemar cursed God for his loss. As punishment for this blasphemy, Waldemar, and his vassals, were condemned to ride the sky forever in a vain search for the late-lamented Tove.

The composer uses huge choral and orchestral forces including four flutes, four piccolos, five oboes, seven clarinets, three bassoons, ten horns, seven trumpets, seven trombones, one tuba, six timpani and a massive battery of percussion, four harps, celesta and a more than substantial string section.

The strength of this new Chandos recording is in its sonic splendour. The sound is demonstration class. Gardner here, drawing on his operatic experience, brings out all the sensuality and melodrama of Late-Romantic excesses inherent in Schoenberg’s massive score.

Stuart Skelton is a marvel, utterly sincere and convincing in the role as the tortured, troubled Waldemar, ecstatically besotted in embracing his passion for Tove. He is tortured when he discovers her death and noisily and uncompromisingly vindictive as he rails against the heavens. Yet there is a pathos and a vulnerability shown too as well as white heat anger. Alwyn Mellor’s Tove is passionate enough, maybe a little more yielding and cautious might have been more on the mark? However Anna Larsson’s Wood Dove lacked expression. On the other hand, I was drawn to Klaus the Fool’s (Ablinger-Sperrhacke) expressive, droll and witty condemnation of the cursed eternal ride of Waldemar and his men. Thomas Allen, after the passing of the summer wind, delivers a note of redemption and optimism echoed by the glorious final chorus – ‘Behold the Sun …’.

Ian Lace

Previous reviews: Dan Morgan ~ Dave Billinge



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger