The music of Arnold Schoenberg in concert this week, featuring the RSO, Berlin conducted by Riccardo Chailly and featuring a full roster of exquisite talent in a performance or Arnold Schoenberg’s masterpiece, Gurre-Lieder.
With Soprano Susan Dunn, Alto Brigitte Fassbaender, Teno Heiki Siukola, Hermann Becht, bass, Horst Hiestermann, Teno and Boris Cameli, Speaker along with the Men’s Chorus Of The Dusseldorf Music Society and the Choir of St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, Berlin.
It was recorded by Sender Freies, Berlin on May 27, 1985.
Riccardo Chailly started his career as an opera conductor and gradually extended his repertoire to encompass symphonic music.
Chailly made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam in 1985. From 1988 to 2004, Chailly was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO), where he dedicated himself to performances of the standard symphonic tradition, notably Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, with which the orchestra made its name but also significantly broadened the repertoire with 20th century and contemporary music. Among notable projects, Chailly led the 1995 Mahler Festival that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s first concert at the Concertgebouw. Chailly also conducted opera in Amsterdam, both at the RCO’s annual Christmas Matinee concert as well as at De Nederlandse Opera (DNO), where his final opera production in Amsterdam was DNO’s staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. One report stated that Chailly decided in 2002 to leave the RCO when, at his last contract negotiations, the orchestra offered him an extension for two years rather than five.
In 1986, Chailly conducted the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for the first time, at the Salzburg Festival, after Herbert von Karajan had introduced Chailly to the orchestra. His next guest-conducting appearance with the Leipzig orchestra was in 2001, and after an additional appearance, he was named the 19th Kapellmeister of the orchestra. In August 2005, he officially became the chief conductor of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and general music director (GMD) of Oper Leipzig. His initial Leipzig contract was to run through to 2010. In May 2008, he extended his contract with the Gewandhausorchester to 2015. However, he concurrently resigned as GMD of the Oper Leipzig, reportedly after conflict over the hiring of personnel without his consultation. In June 2013, the Gewandhausorchester and Chailly agreed on a further extension of his contract through 2020. However, in September 2015, the Gewandhausorchester announced the newly scheduled conclusion of Chailly’s tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister in June 2016, four years ahead of the previously agreed upon contract extension, at Chailly’s request. His projects in Leipzig have included an international Mahler festival in May 2011, featuring 10 different orchestras.
Chailly became the first music director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (La Verdi) in 1999, and held the post until 2005. He now has the title of Conductor Laureate with La Verdi. In December 2013, La Scala announced the appointment of Chailly as its next music director, from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2022. Chailly is scheduled to take the title of principal conductor of La Scala as of 1 January 2015, and to hold that title until 31 December 2016.In August 2015, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra announced the appointment of Chailly as its next music director, effective with the 2016 Lucerne Festival, with an initial contract of 5 years. On 31 January 2019 the Lucerne Festival Orchestra announced that the music director Chailly’s tenure has extended to 2023.
Chailly has an exclusive recording contract with Decca, and his recordings with Decca include complete cycles of the symphonies of Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. His Brahms cycle with the Gewandhausorchester won the 2014 Gramophone Award for Recording of the Year. Other notable achievements include recordings of Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse and Paul Hindemith. More recently, with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly has led recordings of Felix Mendelssohn, Johann Sebastian Bach, Brahms, Robert Schumann’s symphonies in the re-orchestrations by Mahler, and a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies. His past recordings with American orchestras included Shostakovich: The Dance Album with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Chailly has been married twice. He has a daughter, Luana, by his first marriage to Anahi Carfi, and a stepson from his second and current marriage to Gabriella Terragni.
In 1900, Arnold Schoenberg began composing the work as a song cycle for soprano, tenor and piano for a competition run by the Wiener Tonkünstler-Verein (Vienna Composers’ Association). It was written in a lush, late-romantic style heavily influenced by Richard Wagner. According to Schoenberg, however, he “finished them half a week too late for the contest, and this decided the fate of the work.” Later that year, he radically expanded his original conception, composing links between the first nine songs as well as adding a prelude, the Wood Dove’s Song, and the whole of Parts Two and Three. He worked on this version sporadically until around 1903, when he abandoned the mammoth task of orchestrating the work and moved on to other projects.
By the time he returned to the piece in 1910, he had already written his first acknowledged atonal works, such as the Three Pieces for Piano, Op. 11, Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16 and Erwartung, Op. 17. He had also come under the spell of Gustav Mahler, whom he had met in 1903 and whose influence may be discernible in the orchestration of the latter parts of the Gurre-Lieder. Whereas Parts One and Two are clearly Wagnerian in conception and execution, Part Three features the pared-down orchestral textures and kaleidoscopic shifts between small groups of instruments favoured by Mahler in his later symphonies. In Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd, Schoenberg also introduced the first use of Sprechgesang (or Sprechstimme), a technique he would explore more fully in Pierrot Lunaire of 1912. The orchestration was finally completed in November 1911.