The Gurre-Lieder, as well as Verklärte Nacht, lie within the first creative period of the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. Far from the atonal language, explored by Schoenberg from 1907 on with his String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10, these lieder for five vocal soloists, narrator, chorus and large orchestra bear witness of the strong influence exerted by Wagner on the Viennese composer. Both the plot, a romance taking place in idealized medieval times, and the sonorities of the orchestra evoke Wagner's Tristan und Isold. The Gurre-Lieder, with their refined orchestration, mark the apotheosis of the post-Romantic period, before the birth of modernity and the creation of new harmonic rules.
The poems of the Gurre-Lieder, written by Jens Peter Jacobsen, draw their inspiration from the story of Waldemar I, King of Denmark (1131-1182), and his lover, Tove. The setting is the Gurre Castle, where the two lovers meet before the murder of the young Tove by Waldemar's wife. The king, overwhelmed with grief, falls into madness, condemned to err into an endless light.
Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France for this performance of Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder. A remarkable cast, starring Katarina Dalayman and Robert Dean Smith in the roles of Tove and Waldemar, breathe life into the different characters of this post-Romantic masterwork.
Mr Salonen has recorded the Gurre-Lieder of Arnold Schönberg for Signum Classics, September 2009. Visit www.esapekkasalonen.com.
This concert will be webcast live by Arte Live, Radio France and medici.tv.
Picture: © Sonja Werner.
Kent Nagano, Nikolaus Lehnhoff – Tom Fox (Friedrich von Telramund), Klaus Florian Vogt (Lohengrin) – Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
Peter Schneider, Christoph Marthaler – Robert Dean Smith (Tristan), Robert Holl (King Marke) – Bayreuther Festspielhaus