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Next on my list is a fascinating attempt to stage Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder for the first time, by Pierre Audi in Amsterdam (filmed 2014). For this monumental cantata, Audi draws in multiple historical strands to present the work as a dramatic entity. He sets it in a massive and gloomy galleried hall, where Waldemar (tenor) and his mistress Tove (soprano) sing their many songs in Part I almost as an extended metaphysical duet, reminiscent of Tristan und Isolde. Visually there is an air of decayed grandeur which intensifies as the music approaches its third and final part, echoing the period between 1900 and 1913, during which Schoenberg composed the piece, and his progression in its music from the almost over-intense and luscious Romantic opening to a far more abrasive style as the First World War approached. Marc Albrecht in the pit leads a performance of great clarity, never allowing his forces to overwhelm, and indulging but not wallowing in the more purple passages. Burkhard Fritz is an excellent Waldemar, stentorian but also quite melting in the more tender passages, likewise Emily Magee as Tove. In fact the whole cast, orchestra and chorus are outstanding.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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