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Schoenberg: Gurrelieder, Verklarte Nacht / Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Notes & Reviews:

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder is a massive cantata for five vocal soloists, narrator, chorus and large orchestra based on poems by the Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen. The title refers to Gurre Castle in Denmark, which is the scene of Jacobsen's recounting of a medieval love-tragedy (and Danish national legend) revolving around the love of the Danish king Valdemar IV for his mistress Tove and her subsequent murder by the jealous Queen Helvig. This superb live recording featuring Zubin Mehta leading the Israel Philharmonic highlights Mehta's affinity for the repertoire of Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School. Gurrelieder holds a special place in the conductor's heart as it was the last work he conducted as he concluded his thirteen year tenure with the New York Philharmonic.

American Record Guide, July/August 2013
At an hour and 42 minutes, it's one of the faster readings around. His interpretation is well proportioned so that every tempo of this extremely complicated work sounds right. In general, the playing and singing are good. Particularly praiseworthy is soprano Jennifer Wilson. Her phrasing is long-breathed; and her pitches, in all their chromatic difficulty, are accurately placed. Mehta uses the string orchestra edition of Transfigured Night, in a lush interpretation. My favorites are Boulez and Gielen. On the Boulez, Guenter Reich's superb Sprechstimme narration is alone almost worth the investment.


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