Arnold Schönberg: Gurrelieder
Schönberg’s massive work is finally performed at Helsinki Music Centre. Composed for an expanded orchestra, a boys’ choir and mixed choir, five vocal soloists and a narrator, Gurrelieder is always a guaranteed experience and event for the listener.
The unique scale and hubris of the song series makes it one of the milestones of late-Romantic art music in the 20thcentury. Based on a collection of poems by the Danish Jens Peter Jacobsen, the composition depicting tragic love and death is considered to be Schönberg’s response to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
Despite the mammoth size of the nearly two-hour work, the palette of expression is surprisingly wide, ranging from choral and orchestral parts full of pathos to delicate sections of chamber music. Evoking horror, romantic longing and even comedic jests, the three-part cantata with an operatic finale is as demanding for the orchestra as it is for the soloists. At Helsinki Festival, this challenge is met by international opera stars, the musicians of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and an impressive chorus of over 200 singers, led by Susanna Mälkki.