Schoenberg: Gurrelieder; Suite in G

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COMPOSERS: Schoenberg
LABELS: EMI Double Forte
WORKS: Gurrelieder; Suite in G
PERFORMER: Martina Arroyo (soprano), Alexander Young (tenor), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano); Danish Radio Chorus, Danish State RSO & Concert Orchestra/János Ferencsik, RPO/Norman Del Mar
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 74194 2 ADD Reissue (1968, 1965)
Given the mammoth forces required, it is no surprise that the number of recordings of Gurrelieder is still small. This EMI reissue is a Danish Radio recording from 1968, an account notable for bringing the poetic inspiration behind the work close to its Danish source, but, bar a couple of saving graces, completely trounced by later versions. Those exceptions are an intensely moving Wood-dove from Janet Baker in her prime and a lyrical, forceful Waldemar from Alexander Young. But the wayward singing of the Tove, Martina Arroyo, makes one shed no tear that the character dies so early in the work and, while Ferencsik drives his forces wildly when required, the playing is too ragged for comfortable repeated listening. For all the added value of a fine Suite in G, to buy this account when Riccardo Chailly’s unsurpassed Gurrelieder is available is a false economy: Brigitte Fassbaender is Baker’s equal and the orchestral playing and sound are far more successful in capturing the work’s opulence. Matthew Rye