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Richard Wagner (1813-83)

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Wagner: Overtures and Preludes

Wagner: Overtures and Preludes


Wagner:

Die Feen: Overture

Christoph Columbus: Overture

Rienzi Overture

Das Liebesverbot Overture

Faust Overture, WWV59

Der fliegende Holländer: Overture

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act 3

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act 1

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Prelude to Act 3


On this disc we bring together some of the highlights from Neeme Järvi’s five-volume Wagner series with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. As an added bonus, we have included the Overture to Der fliegende Holländer, a piece not before released.

Among Wagner’s most revolutionary scores is the tragic-romantic opera Tristan und Isolde. The key themes of anticipation, longing, rapture, separation, hope, death, and transfiguration are suggested already in the famous Prelude to the opera, recorded here.

The Overture to Rienzi, Wagner’s third completed opera (1838 – 40), incorporates the melody of Rienzi’s prayer at the start of Act V, which since became the opera’s best-known aria, and ends with a dazzling military march. Die Feen was the composer’s first great romantic, although less well-known, opera. The overall style of the work, based on La donna serpente by Carlo Gozzi, owes its essentials to Beethoven, Marschner, and Weber.

Wagner based Das Liebesverbot on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. It is perhaps the most Mediterranean-sounding of his operas, something especially apparent in the brimming vitality of the Overture with its sparkling contributions of castanets, triangle, and tambourine. ‘Rollicking good fun’ wrote American Record Guide of this piece.

Also enriching the disc are the Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, and the seldom performed and recorded, Weber-inspired Overture which Wagner wrote in 1835 for the play Columbus by Theodor Apel. Eine Faust-Ouvertüre followed in 1840. Taking its inspiration from Goethe’s famous play, this work, together with Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, became the main example of nineteenth-century programme music.

“Jarvi’s interpretations are wonderfully supple.” Sunday Times, 1st September 2013

“an excellent programme in its own right, hard to better, even though, surprisingly, Jarvi in his long career has conducted little or no theatrical Wagner. He tends to favour measured tempos, but these are illuminated by the fine playing of the RNSO, gleaming richly in the spacious grandeur of SACD sound.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ****

“ Järvi is a master of this repertoire and he continually conjures splendid playing from his Scottish orchestra.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

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Chandos - CHSA5126

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Wagner: Siegfried

Wagner: Siegfried

Sung in English (translation by Andrew Porter)


Alberto Remedios (Siegfried), Rita Hunter (Brünnhilde), Gregory Dempsey (Mime), Norman Bailey (Wanderer), Derek Hammond-Stroud (Alberich), Clifford Grant (Fafner), Anne Collins (Erda), Maurine London (Woodbird), Barry Tuckwell (horn)

Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra, Reginald Goodall

“Goodall's spacious direction here conveys the genuine dramatic crunch that gives the experience of hearing Wagner in the opera house its unique power, its overwhelming force; this is unmistakably a great interpretation caught on the wing. Remedios, more than any rival on record, conveys not only heroic strength but clear-ringing youthfulness, caressing the ear as well as exciting it.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****

“Remedios's fresh, lyrical singing is a joy from start to finish; nobody since has equalled him as Siegfried. Dempsey's Mime is at once subtle, funny yet menacing. Those who so praise Tomlinson as Wotan/Wanderer can't have heard Bailey's better sung, articulate and eloquent assumption, another reading not since surpassed. To crown the performance we have Rita Hunter's glorious Brünnhilde, so luminously and keenly sung, just about on a par with Nilsson in the role. They are all wonderfully supported by Goodall and his players.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“A unique record of a real artistic achievement.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2005

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3045

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Wagner: The Flying Dutchman

Wagner: The Flying Dutchman


Wagner:

Der fliegende Holländer

Sung in English (translation by Christopher Cowell)


John Tomlinson (The Dutchman), Nina Stemme (Senta), Eric Halfvarson (Daland), Kim Begley (Erik), Patricia Bardon (Mary), Peter Wedd (Steersman)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, David Parry

“Tomlinson, a favourite in the title-role at Bayreuth, now a veteran, is masterful as the Dutchman, exploiting his wide tonal and expressive range, with few signs of wear on the voice...[Stemme is] fresh and true, to outshine almost any rival on disc.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ****

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3119

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Wagner: The Mastersingers

Wagner: The Mastersingers


Wagner:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Sung in English (translation by Frederick Jameson, with revisions by Norman Feasey and Gordon Kember)


Margaret Curphey (Eva), Alberto Remedios (Walther von Stolzing), Norman Bailey (Hans Sachs), Derek Hammond-Stroud (Sixtus Beckmesser), Ann Robson (Magdalene), Gregory Dempsey (David), Noel Mangin (Pogner), Stafford Dean (Nightwatchman)

Sadlers Wells Chorus & Sadlers Wells Opera Orchestra, Reginald Goodall

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

For the first time ever, the legendary centenary production of Wagner's The Mastersingers, conducted by Reginald Goodall, is released as a 4-CD set on Chandos Opera in English.

Broadcast live on the BBC from Sadler's Wells Theatre on 10 February 1968, Goodall conducted a cast of such luminaries as Alberto Remedios, Norman Bailey, Derek Hammond-Stroud, Gregory Dempsey, Margaret Curphey and Ann Robson. Following the live broadcast the recording sadly disappeared into the archives and has since become one of the most talked about ‘lost’ performances. Music-lovers have regularly contacted Chandos requesting its release on Opera in English and it is one that Sir Peter Moores was determined to make happen. It even led to an appeal for individuals’ recordings of the broadcast! This 4-CD set has subsequently been re-mastered from a BBC Radio live broadcast and is released at the price of 3 CDs. The sound quality reflects the fact it is a 1968 ‘live’ recording and some deterioration is evident, although this does not detract from the fantastic performance value. ‘A popular comic opera’, The Mastersingers is an ensemble opera in a sense which Wagner’s other operas are not. Yet despite its comic opera standing, it is in fact a deeply spiritual work. Wagner wrote, ‘it is impossible that you should not have sensed, under the opera’s quaint superficies of popular humour, the profound melancholy, the lament, the cry of distress of poetry in chains, and its reincarnation, its new birth, its irresistible magic power achieving mastery over the common and the base.’ Nicholas Payne writes: “the rise and fall of Goodall’s orchestra is drenched in tears which encompass both supreme joy and unrequited sorrow. Goodall sensed that the generosity of spirit which inhabited Sadler’s Wells and its company in the final years at that theatre would never be recaptured.” Sir Peter Moores comments on this release: “The resounding success of Reginald Goodall's Mastersingers led to his conducting an 'English' Ring at the London Coliseum in the 1970s. That Ring started me recording opera in English so I am thrilled that we have been able to add The Mastersingers to our Opera in English catalogue - alongside Goodall's Ring.”

“There might be flaws in this long-awaited CD release of the original performance, but few of them come from Goodall's thrilling grasp of Wagner's late comic opera. Compelling, joyous, often magnificent, Goodall displays a great sense for overall dramatic architecture and a spaciousness that highlights detail.” The Times, 5th July 2008 ****

“The performance is greater than the sum of its parts: individual roles may have been more lustrously sung on disc, but it is hard to think of a more satisfying team than Norman Bailey (a noble Sachs, earthy and poetic), Alberto Remedios (a liquidly sung, golden-toned Stolzing), Derek Hammond-Stroud, (a pernickety, word-perfect Beckmesser), Margaret Curphey (occasionally lemony-tinted, but radiant on the top line of the quintet) and Gregory Dempsey (a David who really sings the notes). Goodall’s towering achievement shines through the sometimes boxy recording.” Sunday Times, 13th July 2008 ****

“Avid Wagnerites have been clamouring for the commercial release of these two performances for ages. Broadcast on Radio 3, from Sadler's Wells and the Royal Opera House respectively, they have cult status among postwar British Wagner interpretations, and each also represents a significant moment in its company's history. Reginald Goodall's English-language performances in 1968 marked the start of a 15-year-long Wagnerian golden age, as far as Sadler's Wells (later English National) Opera was concerned. Bernard Haitink's Meistersinger - the high point of his tenure as Covent Garden's music director - was broadcast in July 1997, on the eve of the house's closure for refurbishment. Stylistically, they are antithetical. Goodall's at times overwhelming performance is at once extremely slow and phenomenally intense, while Haitink is swift, mercurial and altogether more relaxed. Goodall never lets us forget that Meistersinger is a parable of poetic creativity, and there is an overriding sense of metaphysical resonance and elation in his interpretation. Haitink, meanwhile steers us through an urbane social comedy, before anchoring the work in the final scene, when Walther (Gösta Winbergh) gives the song's first performance, as Sachs (John Tomlinson) gazes contentedly on. Goodall has marginally the more consistent cast, the product of his determination to train an ensemble of house singers. Bailey's nobly introverted Sachs has claim to being the most beautiful on disc, and few Walthers have ever matched Remedios in poetic fervour. Winbergh, very much his equal in vocal ease and beauty, is more impulsive and also, tellingly, more obviously aristocratic. Goodall has the better Eva in the ecstatic Margaret Curphey, while Haitink's Nancy Gustafson is having an off night. On the other hand, Thomas Allen's subtly characterised Beckmesser, for Haitink, is preferable to Derek Hammond-Stroud's snarling caricature on the Goodall set.” The Guardian, 11th July 2008 ****

“Goodall's understanding of what every beat of this core means, and his successful communication of that to his personally trained cast, is a thing of wonder. Climaxes are immense; timers may tell us it's slow, but the pulse never flags.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2008

“It's eminently listenable, capturing the musical and spiritual glow of Goodall's orchestra and voices, masterfully embodying the comedy's entwining pain and laughter. …this is not only something very special, but (for Anglophones) strikingly accessible. Pure gold!” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2008 *****

“Quite a revelation. The radio recording captures the atmosphere thrillingly. [Bailey] was an outstanding Sachs, firm and focused...Hammond-Stroud is a delightfully characterful Beckmesser, pointing the humour infectiously...It is striking that not one of the singers has even the suspicion of a wobble.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

“overall what you would probably buy this set for is the conducting of Reginald Goodall, and particularly his slow and expansive reading of the score, for which he was so renowned. What hits you more than anything else is the scale on which he is thinking. He can hold things in reserve, literally for hours, and build a crescendo in a longer and harder way than you’ve ever heard before.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 30thJune 2008

Presto Disc of the Week

30th June 2008

GGramophone Awards 2009

Finalist - Historic Archive

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2008

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - August 2008

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3148(4)

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Wagner: The Rhinegold

Wagner: The Rhinegold


Wagner:

Das Rheingold

Sung in English (translation by Andrew Porter)


Norman Bailey (Wotan), Derek Hammond-Stroud (Alberich), Emile Belcourt (Loge), Katherine Pring (Fricka), Robert Lloyd (Fasolt), Clifford Grant (Fafner), Gregory Dempsey (Mime), Lois McDonnall (Freia), Anne Collins (Erda), Norman Welsby (Donner), Robert Ferguson (Froh), Valerie Masterson (Woglinde), Shelagh Squires (Wellgunde), Helen Attfield (Flosshilde)

English National Opera Chorus, English National Opera Orchestra, Reginald Goodall


Siegfried: That Reginald Goodall idolised Klemperer and Knappertsbusch is evident in every aspect of this weighty, consistently thought-through interpretation; indeed it consoles us for the cycle Klemperer never recorded.
The performance is also a reminder of what those then in charge of the ENO – Stephen Arlen, Lord Harewood and Edmund Tracey – had the sense to realise: that here was a unique opportunity to let a seasoned Wagnerian have his head in terms of the time and trouble to prepare a cycle in his own long time-scale. The results are there for all to hear in the total involvement of every member of the orchestra, the lyrical lines of the singers, the superb enunciation of the faultless translation.
Remedios's fresh, lyrical singing is a joy from start to finish; nobody since has equalled him as Siegfried. Dempsey's Mime is at once subtle, funny yet menacing. Those who so praise Tomlinson as Wotan/Wanderer can't have heard Bailey's better sung, articulate and eloquent assumption, another reading not since surpassed.
To crown the performance we have Rita Hunter's glorious Brünnhilde, so luminously and keenly sung, just about on a par with Nilsson in the role. They are all wonderfully supported by Goodall and his players. Only in some of Andrew Porter's wonderfully lucid translation is given its full due by all the soloists, who once more sound an utterly convincing team. In Rhinegold the main honours are carried off by Emile Belcourt's plausible, witty and articulate Loge, Hammond-Stroud's imposing, strongly sung Alberich, Robert Lloyd's sympathetic Fasolt and Bailey's everauthoritative Wotan. With a pleasing trio of Rhinemaidens headed by Masterson's gleaming Woglinde, Clifford Grant's gloomy, louring Fafner and Anne Collins's deep-throated Erda, the strength of the ENO roster at the time is there for all to hear.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Hammond-Stroud's powerful representation of Alberich culminates in a superb account of the curse. The spectacular orchestral effects (with the horns sounding glorious) are vividly caught by the engineers and impressively transferred to CD” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition **/***

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3054

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Wagner: The Valkyrie

Wagner: The Valkyrie


Wagner:

Die Walküre

Sung in English (translation by Andrew Porter)


Norman Bailey (Wotan), Rita Hunter (Brünnhilde), Alberto Remedios (Siegmund), Margaret Curphey (Sieglinde), Clifford Grant (Hunding), Ann Howard (Fricka)

English National Opera Orchestra, English National Opera Chorus, Reginald Goodall

“This very fine Wagner recording returns to the catalogue – a highly persuasive account in its considered approach. The singing, in an effective English translation is excellent” Gramophone Magazine

“Valkyrie: There's something inevitable, even eternal about Goodall's long-breathed, fulltoned, often ideally articulated reading. The ENO management's faith in him was handsomely repaid in his ability to convey his lifetime vision to is regular cast and eventually to his audiences. On paper, tempos may look unacceptably slow; in practice there are very few places – perhaps Siegmund's Spring song and Sieglinde's reply – where they seem too tardy.
That's largely due to his ability to find the Hauptstimme for every paragraph of the music, indeed for a whole act and, perhaps even more, to his ability to persuade players and singers alike to sustain a long line. Listeners familiar only with the Solti cycle will hardly recognise this as the same work.
By 1976 all his singers were entirely inside their respective roles and so able to project a feeling of familiarity with their music that's evident in every bar. Like all the most satisfying sets of the Ring, it benefits enormously from being heard live in a theatre acoustic, and here no compromises have to be made, so superb are producer John Mordler's and his team's skills.
You seem to be seated in centre stalls imbibing the performance. Rita Hunter bestrides the role of Brünnhilde in a confident manner achieved in relatively modern times only by Birgit Nilsson, whose bright tone and effortless top Hunter's so much resembles. She's also a thoughtful, very human interpreter of the role, keen with her words and investing them with the right import.
By her side Bailey confirms that he's as excellent a Wotan as any since Hans Hotter. His reading of the taxing part is virtually tireless and his interpretation combines authority with fatherly concern. Remedios's Siegmund remains one of the most sweetly sung and appealing on disc. If Curphey isn't quite in his class vocally, she offers a deeply felt and sympathetic Sieglinde. Ann Howard is, rightly, a termagant of a Fricka, with a touch of asperity in her tone. Clifford Grant is a sonorous, towering Hunding. The Valkyries, comprising many of the most promising female singers of the day (among them Elizabeth Connell and Anne Evans), acquit themselves very well. All the cast benefit from Andrew Porter's carefully wrought, very singable translation.
Overall, a hearty welcome back to a great recording.
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“the glory of the ENO performance lies not just in Goodall's spacious direction but in the magnificent Wotan of Norman Bailey, noble in the broadest span but very human in his illumination of detail. Rita Hunter sings nobly too...the total dramatic conpulsion is irresistable” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3038

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Wagner Transcriptions Volume 1: Der Ring

Wagner Transcriptions Volume 1: Der Ring


Wagner:

The Ring - an orchestral adventure

arranged by Henk de Vlieger

Siegfried Idyll


This 67-minute, orchestra-only version of Wagner’s famous opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen is arranged by Henk de Vlieger, arranger, composer and percussionist in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. The work was commissioned by the orchestra and the result is a 14-section fiery musical spectacle entitled The Ring, an orchestral adventure. This symphonic ‘compilation’ compresses Wagner’s four mighty Ring operas, yet includes all the major themes and ‘leitmotifs’. The result is an overwhelming experience and a must for anyone who loves blazing orchestral colours. The Minneapolis Tribune wrote; “The way that De Vlieger has created transitions between scenes and acts is quite ingenious…’ “Bits of Rheingold, Walkure, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung floated past, melded together as if some Wagnerian uperman who understood the whole and articulated it in particular. Highlights were everywhere. Horns, sounded offstage and on, reminded listeners of the great arias, without the singers to sing it… Toward the end, it actually seemed like we had experienced the entire Ring cycle – a tribute to the orchestrator’s talents,’ wrote the Boston Herald following a performance of the work. Coupled to this mighty work is Siegfried Idyll, which is thematically related to the Ring, and although with quite a different subject matter, complements the Orchestral Adventure perfectly.

“Dutch composer Henk de Vlieger describes his symphonic synthesis of the complete Ring cycle as "An Orchestral Adventure"… A bold concept, which in a performance as fine as this works remarkable well…” Gramophone Magazine, April 2008

“…sterling playing from the Scottish orchestra, whose dark, burnished brass section particularly suits Wagner's scoring, and virile, purposeful conducting from Neeme Järvi.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 ***

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Wagner Transcriptions Volume 2: Parsifal

Wagner Transcriptions Volume 2: Parsifal


Wagner:

Parsifal – an orchestral quest

symphonic compilation, arr. Henk de Vlieger

Tannhäuser: Overture and Venusberg Music

Vienna Edition 1874

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act 3

Vienna Edition 1874


Neeme Jarvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the second of four albums featuring the bold arrangements of Wagner by Henk de Vlieger. Of the first album, Classic FM magazine wrote ‘Dutch composer Henk de Vlieger builds a penetrating symphonic poem that reflects the dramatic depths of The Ring.’

In Parsifal, an orchestral quest, commissioned by the Netherland Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and dedicated to the musicians of this orchestra, Henk de Vlieger has compiled the musical and emotional highlights of Wagner’s opera, and whenever necessary he has stitched these into a new context. Thus De Vlieger retells the story of Parsifal with Wagner’s music. In order to do so he has kept the symmetry in the opera: 1. Vorspiel, 2 Parsifal, 3. Die Gralsritter I, 4. Die Blumenmadchen, 5. Karfreitagszauber, 6. Die Gralsritter II, 7. Naschspiel.

This arrangement is coupled with Wagner’s arrangements of Overture and Venusberg Ballet Scene from Tannhauser and the concert version of Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin.

Chandos releases this album is surround-sound hybrid SACD to maximise the audio quality of the performance.

“The Tannhauser excerpt...really begins to boil in the infamous ballet music, giving the sonorous RSNO brass something they can finally tuck into with relish” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 **

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Wagner Transcriptions Volume 3: Tristan und Isolde

Wagner Transcriptions Volume 3: Tristan und Isolde


Wagner:

Die Feen: Overture

Das Liebesverbot Overture

Tristan und Isolde - an orchestral passion

arr. Henk de Vlieger


Neeme Järvi is back conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the third of four albums featuring Henk de Vlieger’s bold arrangements of operas by Wagner. Of the first album (CHSA5060), Classic FM wrote: ‘Dutch composer Henk de Vlieger builds a penetrating symphonic poem that reflects the dramatic depths of The Ring.’

In Volume 3, De Vlieger turns to Wagner’s tragic-romantic opera Tristan und Isolde, which is here treated symphonically. The key themes of anticipation, longing, rapture, separation, hope, death, and transfiguration are expressed solely through orchestral forces. A particularly striking feature of the lovers’ duet, a movement entitled ‘Nachtgesang’, is the conspicuous presence of the violin and the clarinet, which pick out the sung parts of the two lovers. The movement ends on an unresolved chord followed by a compelling caesura, which symbolises the painful realisation that it will never be possible for them to fulfil their great love.

This disc also includes the overture to Wagner’s Die Feen. This was the composer’s first great romantic, although less well-known, opera. The overall style of the work, based on La donna serpente by Carlo Gozzi, owes its essentials to Beethoven, Marschner, and Weber – something that Wagner himself never hid in the least. However, the opera also displays clearly audible foreshadowings of the composer’s later works, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, in particular.

Wagner based Das Liebesverbot on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, and included on this disc is the overture to the opera. It is perhaps the most Mediterranean-sounding of the composer’s operas, something especially apparent in the brimming vitality of the overture in which the tone is set straight away by the sparkling contributions of castanets, triangle, and tambourine. Described as a ‘große komische Oper’, it was composed in 1834, and Wagner conducted the premiere at Magdeburg in 1836. The first performance poorly attended and involving a lead singer who forgot the words and had to improvise, the opera was a resounding flop and its second performance had to be cancelled after a fist-fight broke out backstage between the prima donna’s husband and a leading tenor before the curtain had even risen. The opera was never performed again in Wagner's lifetime.

“Considered as extended highlights...this is seriously good, not least for the RNSO's suave playing, captured in silky SACD sound...The garden scene has a sensual glow, Mark's intrusion sounds suitably baleful, and the sombre hues that follow phase easily into the opening of Act III.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ****

“the two overtures fizz and sparkle under Järvi's exuberant direction...The Scottish players are on fine form, with wonderfully ripe brass and some lovely solos, notably the clarinet and violin...Järvi shapes the emotional journey into a satisfying single arc...The recording is demonstration class.” Classic FM Magazine, April 2011 ****

“The RSNO play like musicians possessed as Neeme Järvi powers through it all with maximum forcefulness.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011

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Chandos Neeme Järvi Wagner Transcriptions - CHSA5087

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Wagner Transcriptions Volume 4: Die Meistersinger

Wagner Transcriptions Volume 4: Die Meistersinger

An Orchestral Tribute arr. Henk de Vlieger


Wagner:

Faust Overture, WWV59

Christoph Columbus: Overture

Die Meistersinger - an Orchestral Tribute

Entreactes tragiques Nos 1 and 2


Neeme Järvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the fourth album of their Wagner series.

Their performances on the previous three volumes have received high critical acclaim. American Record Guide wrote of Volume 1: ‘This is wonderful playing and sound… Järvi knows exactly what to do to make the music speak. The orchestra sounds better than I’ve ever heard them.’

This disc features a symphonic arrangement by the Dutch composer and percussionist Henk de Vlieger of Wagner’s only comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It is the only opera by Wagner centred round a specific time and place in history, rather than a mythical or legendary past. The story takes place in Nuremberg during the middle of the sixteenth century, and revolves around the real-life guild of the Master Singers, an association of amateur poets and musicians who developed a craftsman-like approach to music-making.

Wagner left the two early Entreactes tragiques unfinished, the first only partially orchestrated, and they are heard here in orchestrations completed by De Vlieger.

Completing the disc are the seldom performed and recorded Overture to Columbus, and Eine Faust-Ouvertüre by Wagner. Written in 1835, when Wagner was just twenty-two years old, the Weber-influenced Columbus Overture introduces the play by Theodor Apel. His Faust-Overture followed in 1840. Taking its inspiration from Goethe’s famous play, this work, together with Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, became the main example of nineteenth-century programme music.

“The subtitles may be naff, but this is music of genius, knitted together to make a plausible symphonic sequence. The orchestral highlights are here — the overture and the great Act III prelude — and the portentous Masters and boisterous Apprentices are brought vividly to life without singing.” Sunday Times, 28th August 2011

“Five hours are boiled down to 48 minutes, and the over-emphasis on C major jubilation...is as good an indication as you could get of the counterproductiveness of bringing so close together what Wagner had the good sense to keep well apart. There is plenty of contrast in the other material...No complaints about the RSNO's playing or the spacious Chandos recording.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2011

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Chandos Neeme Järvi Wagner Transcriptions - CHSA5092

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