Today's Classical Music Video

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soprano Karita Mattila Sings Tove in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg (September 13, 1874 - July 13, 1951)   The leader of the Second Viennese School which also includes such luminaries as Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Alexander Zemlinsky, Schoenberg was best known as a pioneer and exponent of 12-tone or serialism in his composition.  But in his early career, he composed in the tradition of the late Romantic idiom, as evidenced in such works as Verlarte Nacht and Gurrelieder.  These pieces are known for their expanded tonality as well as the strong affinity for a lush, ultra-Romantic sensibility. Here is Finnish soprano Karita Mattila singing the role of Tove in Gurrelieder, a sort of secular cantata. It comes from a London Proms performance back in 1994.  Sir Andrew Davis, who seems to have great affinity for these massive choral pieces, brings out the full lyricism of the work. There is no denying that the harmonic language harkens back to the past rather than forward-looking as typical of the later Schoenberg compositions. Mattila's cool, tightly controlled vibrato is lovely in this music, although the low notes give her some trouble.  It is well worth watching the rest of this massive work available on Youtube.
- Joseph K. So



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