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.
“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
“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