MTV Video Music Awards

Gurrelieder

Rather than part of the incipient 20th century's "new music," Gurrelieder was the young Arnold Schoenberg's grandest of goodbyes to the late Romantic age—a massive two-hour symphonic/ vocal poe

Rather than part of the incipient 20th century's "new music," Gurrelieder was the young Arnold Schoenberg's grandest of goodbyes to the late Romantic age—a massive two-hour symphonic/ vocal poem scored for the largest orchestra ever assembled, along with full chorus, four solo singers, and a speaker. This is tonal music at its most sumptuously complex and emotionally expansive, stretching the language of Wagner and Strauss to its outer boundaries. Despite the concomitant challenges, Gurrelieder has fared well on record from Leopold Stokowski to Giuseppe Sinopoli and Riccardo Chailly; this keenly anticipated version from Simon Rattle adds to the embarrassment of riches. The Berlin Philharmonic's playing is thrilling, and the vocal soloists are admirable, with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila particularly so. The recording quality is typical of EMI's current (sometimes controversial) style, possessing an incredible dynamic range—from barely audible pianissimo to roof-raising triple-forte. Let's hope we see this "hi-fi" title soon on DVD-Audio (or, better yet, Super Audio CD).—BB