Principal cast/personnel includes: Mark Mourouse (Lord Sepulcharve); Danille Grima (Lady Gertrude); Claudia Visca (Fuchsia); Jackob Fedler, Thomas Hartung (Titus); Irwin Schmidt (conductor); Brandenburger Symphoniker.
Recorded in Brandenburg, Germany in October 1999.
Don't expect Can-style krautrock. Before forming that massively influential band, the classically-trained Schmidt studied under noted composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and that influence is strongest on this operatic work. Combining the structure and style of a traditional grand opera with modern touches like the thumping beats that slowly intrude on "Touch" and the discordant musique concrete effects underlying "Be A Happy Carnivore!," GORMENGHAST alternates between Satie-like playfulness, moments of genuine beauty, and unsettling passages recalling the tense starkness of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE.
The drastic editing of the CD--in its stage form, GORMENGHAST is a full three-act opera--condenses Schmidt's compositions perhaps more than it should; a multi-disc set including more of the often-brilliant bits of incidental music you hear between arias and duets would be most welcome. Regardless, GORMENGHAST combines traditional and contemporary musical forms better than any extended work since Phillip Glass and Robert Wilson's EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH.
The Wire (2/00, pp.53-4) - "...A 'fantasy opera'...hewn from...old Prog edifices....an awkward alliance between rock and classical singers..."