A performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s titanic cantata Gurre-Lieder always feels like an event. With its massive orchestra, vast choral forces and demanding roles for six soloists the experience of hearing it live is frequently overwhelming and often unforgettable (my first included Jessye Norman as Tove and an 80-year-old Hans Hotter as the speaker). The trick on disc is coming anywhere near that. A good performance needs not only the finest singers of the day, it needs a conductor who can shape nearly two unbroken hours of music drama wedded to world-class engineering. Most recordings fall short in one way or another and this latest, captured live at Semperoper, Dresden is, alas, no exception.

Based on a Danish legend, the work tells how the jealous wife of the medieval King Valdemar IV murdered her love rival Tove. When the bereaved king curses God, he and his men are condemned to ride through the skies by night as the so-called Wild Hunt.

Part One is a series of nine ecstatic love songs for Waldemar and Tove followed by the magnificent Song of...