ENDNOTES, 21st September 2017
Edward Gardner conducts Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder for Chandos Records, reviewed by STUART MILLSON
Several works proclaim the creed of the late-romantic period – in particular its transition into the world of early modernism: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ – and his ‘Resurrection’ symphony; Havergal Brian’s Symphony No. 1, ‘Gothic’; and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder – the latter appearing in a dazzling, deeply-felt new recording on the Chandos label, conducted in Bergen by Edward Gardner, and supported by soloists of the calibre of Stuart Skelton, tenor, and Sir Thomas Allen.
Berg, Schoenberg and Webern, the Second Viennese School, and those of their predecessors, Wagner and Mahler, are often viewed in terms of a musical progression or evolution: the mysterious, melancholic, descending phrase at the opening of the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde taking symphonic and operatic music beyond mere “storm and stress” to a darker, or to some, more brilliant horizon. In this supercharged musical closure to the late-romantic era, dissonance and chaos began to grind against established harmonies: the vast orchestral scores of the period breaking free from all hitherto normal frameworks. Like a painting exploding out of its own physical boundaries, the music of Schoenberg brought music into an entirely new dimension. Continue reading