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Gurre-Lieder

The Gurre-Lieder form a massive oratorio for 5 soloists, narrator, chorus and orchestra, composed by Arnold Schoenberg, on poem texts by Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen (translated from Danish to German by Robert Franz Arnold).

Written in lush, late romantic style, and heavily influenced by Wagner and Mahler, the original Part One was finished in short score in 1901 and the expanded, final version was completed in 1910 and 1911. Franz Schreker premiered the oratorio in Vienna on February 23, 1913. Leopold Stokowski gave the work its first recording in 1932.

Movements

Part One

  1. Orchestral Prelude
  2. Nun daempft die Daemm'rung
  3. O, wenn des mondes Strahlen
  4. Ross! Mein Ross!
  5. Sterne jubeln
  6. So tanzen die Engel vor Gottes Thron nicht
  7. Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal
  8. Es ist Mitternachtszeit
  9. Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick
  10. Du wunderliche Tove!
  11. Orchestral Interlude
  12. Tauben von Gurre! (Wood Dove's Song)

Part Two

Herrgott, weisst du, was du tatest

Part Three

  1. Erwacht, Koenig Waldemars Mannen wert!
  2. Deckel des Sarges klappert
  3. Gegruesst, o Koenig
  4. Mit Toves Stimme fluestert der Wald
  5. Ein seltsamer Vogel ist so'n Aal
  6. Du strenger Richter droben
  7. Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf zur Kraht

Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd (The Wild Hunt of the Summer Wind)

  1. Prelude
  2. Herr Gaensefuss, Frau Gaensekraut
  3. Seht die Sonne!

Composition

In 1900, Schoenberg began composing a song cycle for soprano, tenor and piano, intending it as his entry for a competition in Vienna. According to Schoenberg, however, he "finished them half a week too late for the contest, and this decided the fate of the work. During that year, he radically expanded his original conception, writing links between the first nine songs, adding a prelude, the Wood Dove's Song, and Parts Two and Three. He worked on this version sporadically until around 1903, when he abandoned the mammoth effort of orchestrating the work and moved on to other projects.

By the time he returned to the piece in 1910, he had already developed his theories around atonality and written the first acknowledged atonal work, the Three Pieces for Piano, Op. 11. He had also come under the spell of Gustav Mahler, whom he had met in 1903 and whose influence is clearly discernible in the orchestration of the latter parts of the Gurre-Lieder. Whereas Part One is clearly Wagnerian in conception and execution, Part Two and especially Part Three feature the pared-down orchestral textures and kaleidoscopic shifts between small groups of instruments favoured by Mahler in his later symphonies. In Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd, Schoenberg also introduced his first use of sprechgesang (or sprechstimme), a technique he would explore more fully in Pierrot Lunaire (1913).

Orchestration was finally completed in 1911 and the première was given by Franz Schreker in 1913. By this point, Schoenberg was disenchanted with the style and character of the piece and was churlishly dismissive of its positive reception, saying "I was rather indifferent, if not even a little angry. I foresaw that this success would have no influence on the fate of my later works. I had, during these thirteen years, developed my style in such a manner that to the ordinary concertgoer, it would seem to bear no relation to all preceding music. I had to fight for every new work; I had been offended in the most outrageous manner by criticism; I had lost friends and I had completely lost any belief in the judgement of friends. And I stood alone against a world of enemies.

Instrumentation

Gurre-Lieder is scored for an unusually large ensemble including (400 musicians, give or take a few):

  • Brass
  • Strings
  • Keyboards
  • Selected Recordings

    • Michael Gielen, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Melanie Diener, Robert Dean Smith, Ralf Lukas, Yvonne Naef. Hänssler, Art.-Nr.: 093.198.000, 2 SACDs
    • René Leibowitz, Chorus and Orchestra of the New Symphony Society, Paris, Arnold Schönberg: Gurre-Lieder, Richard Lewis, Ethel Semser, Nell Tangement, John Riley, Ferry Gruber, Morris Gesell. Vox Records 222943-311 (rec. 1953, CD issue 2005).
    • Rafael Kubelik, Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder, Herbert Schachtschneider, Inge Borkh, Hertha Töpper, Kieth Engen, Lorenz Fehenberger, Hans-Herbert Fiedler. DGG 431 744-2 (1965).
    • Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder, James McCracken, Jessye Norman, Tatiana Troyanos. Philips 412 511-2 (1979).
    • Eliahu Inbal, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt a.M., Arnold Schönberg: Gurre-Lieder, Paul Frey, Elizabeth Connell, Jard van Nes, Walton Grönroos, Volker Vogel, Hans Franzen, Chor des NDR Hamburg (Ltg. Werner Hagen), Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Ltg. Michael Gläser), Opernchor der Städtischen Bühnen Frankfurt a.M. (Ltg. Volkmar Olbrich). Denon CO 77066-67 (1990).
    • Riccardo Chailly, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gurrelieder, Siegfried Jerusalem, Susan Dunn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Hermann Becht, Peter Haage, Hans Hotter, Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin, Städtischer Musikverein, Düsseldorf. Decca 473 728-2 (1990).
    • Zubin Mehta, New York Philharmonic, Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder, Gary Lakes, Eva Marton. Sony Classical 48077 (1992).
    • Pierre Boulez, Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder, 4 Songs Op.22, Jess Thomas, Yvonne Minton. Sony Classical 48459 (1993).
    • Giuseppe Sinopoli, Staatskapelle Dresden Arnold Schoenberg Gurrelieder for soloists, chorus and orchestra, Thomas Moser, Deborah Voigt, Jennifer Larmore, Bernd Weikl, Kenneth Riegel, Chor der Sachsischen Staatsoper Dresden, Chor de Mitteldeutschen Rundfunks Leipzig, Prager Mannerchor (1995).
    • Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Karita Mattila, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Moser, Philip Langridge, Thomas Quasthoff. EMI 5 5730302 (2002)
    • Claudio Abbado, Wiener Philharmoniker, Sharon Sweet, Siegfried Jerusalem, Marjana Lipovšek, Welker, Philip Langridge, Sukowa, Konzertvereinigung Wiener, Staatsopernchor, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Slowakischer Philharmonischer Chor Bratislawa. DG 439 9442 (1995)

    External links

    References

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