“Gurrelieder” is always a special event, and this performance at the BBC PROMS 2017 is certainly going to be that. The cantata is written for massive forces and they will be gathered together on Saturday, 19th August (performance at 7.30 pm) at the Royal Albert Hall.
The artists include the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle with Eva-Maria Westbroek (Tove), Simon O’Neill (Waldemar), Karen Cargill (Wood-Dove), Peter Hoare (Klaus the Fool), Christopher Purves (Peasant), Thomas Quasthoff (Speaker) and the combined forces of the London Symphony Chorus, the CBSO Chorus and the men’s voices of the Orfeo Catala from Spain.
The work is written in a lush, late romantic style, heavily influenced by Richard Wagner. Schoenberg began work on the piece in 1900 and worked on it sporadically until 1903 when he abandoned the massive task of orchestration and moved on to other projects. By the time he returned to “Gurrelieder” in 1910, he had written his first acknowledged atonal works and come under the spell of Gustav Mahler, whose influence can be detected in the final sections of the piece. The orchestration was finally completed in 1911.
The BBC PROMS 2017 brochure describes the work as follows: Gurrelieder is a tale of a love that even death cannot vanquish, of rage against the heavens, and ultimately of consolation in a closing musical sunrise of unparalleled beauty.