Gurre-Lieder is a curiosity among the works of Arnold Schoenberg: a gargantuan cantata, lasting 90 minutes plus, with soloists and choir backed by a mammoth orchestra that stretches to 10 horns, four harps and iron chains clanking in the percussion ranks.
Written during the first decade of the last century, it waited many years for recordings that did it full justice; live performances in these budget-strapped times are rare, although it did provide one of the peaks of Wellington's 1998 International Festival of the Arts
The music itself is lush and luscious, in the same post-Wagnerian vein as Richard Strauss. With a storyline taken from a mythical Nordic saga of love and death, not so far in spirit from Wagner's Ring, it's revealing that Dutch National Opera staged the work in 2014, a production currently available on DVD.
The latest CD recording of Gurre-Lieder hails from Scandinavia, with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner who, with his seven years at the helm of English National Opera, is just the man to realise the dramatic sweep of this tale.
It's a sweep magnificently captured by the Chandos production team, from banks of shimmering violins to the final super-climax, with a sonic sunrise to test the fortitude of your speakers.
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Australian Stuart Skelton is the ultimate heldentenor as Waldemar, melding the heroic and human, with the same effortless phrasing and tone that he displayed a few years back, singing Mahler with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
It is a shame that Anna Larsson's Wood-Dove song, the score's most celebrated set-piece, lacks the required lustre, although Alwyn Mellor is in glorious voice as Tove, loving and dying in a luxuriant bower of strings.
Among the other fine soloists, Sir Thomas Allen is a delightfully capricious Speaker, and no less than five choirs have combined forces to thrilling effect.
Although images of journeying can run the risk of cliche, Gurre-Lieder is a trip to savour, perhaps in a comfy armchair, booklet in hand, with texts, translations and Julian Anderson's track-by-track commentary as the perfect guide.
What: Schoenberg Gurre-Lieder (Chandos, through Ode Records)
Verdict: A post-Wagnerian armchair trip to savour