Stephen Gould, Christian Thielemann, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Staatskapelle Dresden – Schoenberg – Gurre-Lieder (Live at Semperoper, Dresden) (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:50:09 minutes | 1,0 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Bookelt, Front Cover | © Profil

To say that Christian Thielemann’s early March 2020 Gurre-Lieder at the Semperoper Dresden didn’t take place a moment too soon is something of an understatement, when under a fortnight later Europe’s international-level live music making scene had been reduced to solo recitals self-filmed on mobile phones and posted onto social media. Equally fortuitously, it was recorded live, meaning we can now all listen to this ambitious project with its international line-up that would, had 2020 turned out differently, have received a second airing the following month at the Salzburg Easter Festival.

Broad brushstrokes first, and in orchestral terms there’s a wonderful transparency to the sound from the Staatskapelle Dresden bolstered by members of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. As for tone colour, think silvery luminosity from the upper strings and woodwind, balanced by warm, rounded richness from the brass and lower strings – it’s both luxuriously warm and sharply defined, making for a heavenly Prelude and Zwischenspiel, and full-throttle drama for the conclusion of Part 2. As for the chorus, there’s some thrilling singing from the MDR-Rundfunkchor and Staatsopernchor Dresden, and while “Seht die Sonne” would possibly have packed even more of a punch when heard in the hall (they are perhaps slightly further back in the sound than a studio recording might have given us), “Gegrüßt, o König, an Gurre-Seestrand!” is unequivocally edge-of-the-seat stuff. Thielemann’s overall architecture is also eminently satisfying, including a notably seamless-feeling transition over the stylistic shift between parts two and three.

On to the soloists, and Camilla Nylund’s Tove is warm and supple, losing not an iota of its mellow roundedness as she soars up high, with the climax of her “Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick” truly tingle-inducing. Dark-toned Stephen Gould as Waldemar is ardent in love, and especially compelling in despair, always in control of his own high-register leaps. Christa Mayer’s Woodtaube is rich-voiced and passionate, and Kwangchul Youn’s Bauer ringing and energetic. Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke makes for a colourful and enjoyably semi- raucous Klaus-Narr; and while Franz Grundheber may no longer be in his baritone prime, his voice is deliciously expressive and multicoloured in his sprechstimme Speaker role, and with a flexibility and strength thoroughly belying his eighty-plus years.

If this cast ever gets reunited post-Covid then you should beg, borrow or steal a ticket. In the meantime, crank up the volume on this, and revel in it.


1. Staatskapelle Dresden – Orchestral Prelude (Live)
2. Stephen Gould – No. 1, Nun dämpft die Dämm’rung (Live)
3. Camilla Nylund – No. 2, O, wenn des Mondes Strahlen (Live)
4. Stephen Gould – No. 3, Roß! Mein Roß! Was schleigst du so träg! (Live)
5. Camilla Nylund – No. 4, Sterne jubeln, das Meer, es leuchtet (Live)
6. Stephen Gould – No. 5, So tanzen die Engel vor Gottes Thron nicht (Live)
7. Camilla Nylund – No. 6, Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal (Live)
8. Stephen Gould – No. 7, Es ist Mitternachtszeit (Live)
9. Camilla Nylund – No. 8, Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick (Live)
10. Stephen Gould – No. 9, Du wunderliche Tove! (Live)
11. Staatskapelle Dresden – Orchestral Interlude (Live)
12. Christa Mayer – No. 10, Tauben von Gurre! (Live)
13. Stephen Gould – Herrgott, weißt du, was du tatest (Live)
14. Stephen Gould – No. 1, Erwacht, König Waldemars Mannen wert! (Live)
15. Kwangchul Youn – No. 2, Deckel des Sarges klappert und klappt (Live)
16. MDR Rundfunkchor – Risto Joost – No. 3, Gegrüßt, o König, an Gurre-Seestrand! (Live)
17. Stephen Gould – No. 4, Mit Toves Stimme flüstert der Wald (Live)
18. Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke – No. 5, Ein seltsamer Vogel ist so’n Aal (Live)
19. Stephen Gould – No. 6, Du strenger Richter droben (Live)
20. MDR Rundfunkchor – Risto Joost – No. 7, Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf zur Kraht (Live)
21. Staatskapelle Dresden – Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd (Live)
22. Franz Grundheber – No. 8, Herr Gänsefuß, Frau Gänsekraut (Live)
23. MDR Rundfunkchor – Risto Joost – No. 9, Seht die Sonne farbenfroh am Himmelssaum (Live)