Schoenberg Gurrelieder

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SCHOENBERG Gurrelieder – Ozawa

SCHOENBERG Gurrelieder – Ozawa

  • Gurrelieder

This Gramophone Award-winning performance sounds quite splendid in its new format. One is satisfying but not obstrusively aware of being present at a concert, not just in the sense of space but in the audible expectancy before sudden sforzandos and the impressive dying away of echoes in the silences. There is, too, a feeling of risks being taken and triumphantly coming off in some of the eagerly vociferous brass-playing and in the expertly negotiated perilous tumult of the ''Wild Hunt'' chrous in Part 3.
The excellent recording both has its rich fruit cake and eats it: the orchestral textures are opulently lush but never confused or clogged. I still feel less aware in Ozawa's account than I think I should that Schoenberg, even in Gurrelieder, was a twentieth-century composer, not a hangover from the nineteeth (this would be more apparent, for example, if there were more bite and pungency in the accompaniment to Klaus-Narr's grotesque song), and Troyanos still sounds unhappy in the lower reaches of the Wood Dove's music, but in such a monumentally taxing work one is grateful for a performance that gets so much right (the glorious singing of Jessye Norman, above all) and so little wrong. One final reservation: the soloists sound studio-close rather than concert-hall-close; this is all the more noticeable when the other perspectives are so natural. But the main point is that Gurrelieder has been waiting since 1913 for a recording technique that can comfortably contain it, and it has found it at last.R1 '8503113'

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