Wagner Preludes, Overtures and Lieder

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For whatever reason, Richard Wagner's preludes and overtures are not so often encountered on most symphony orchestra programs these days. It’s a shame, because they are works of tremendous power, beauty and excitement. Yet the Cleveland Orchestra, under its music director Franz Welser-Möst, is just the band to make a fresh case for the composer’s thrilling orchestral creations. Its all-Wagner collection is this week’s Full Rotation.

Recorded live in Severance Hall in February, one can bet its walls reverberated like crazy when the Clevelanders unleashed their brash and muscular readings of The Ride of the Valkyries, the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin and the Rienzi Overture. Their rich brass playing is nicely counterbalanced by Welser-Möst’s generally straightforward, fleet, and lightly textured conducting (listen to how he leads the numerous tempo changes of Rienzi). The Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin, a favorite at weddings, positively shimmers, Die Meistersinger Overture is all pomp and majesty, and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde releases its pent-up passion.

Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, a cycle of five songs for soprano and orchestra based on poetry by Mathilde Wesendonck, features the Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman. These songs evoke cycles of nature as metaphors for love and loss and are often sung by a Wagnerian soprano. While Brueggergosman has a relatively light voice for this role, she sings with a lushness that melds easily into the orchestral texture, which is played with refinement by the Clevelanders.

Wagner Overtures

The Cleveland Orchestra

Franz Welser-Möst

Measha Brueggergosman, soprano

Deutsche Grammophon

Available at Arkivmusic.com

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Comments [6]

In view of the comments I would say that it is difficult to separate the man from his music. It is too bad. The fact that he was an anti-semitic bogot should not interfere with the music that he wrote. I write this as a Jew who appreciates Wagner.

May. 06 2011 07:51 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Tuesday July 13th at 9:49 AM, WQXR played the Die Meistersinger Overture as performed by Maestro Franz Weiser-Moest conducting the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall last February and recorded "Live." The
exceptionally well paced performance with all the instrumental lines clearly defined, the ethos of this masterpiece focussed on authority and "rightness" and everyone contributing to a performance that SHOULD sell well. It goes on
sale in 2 weeks. The program included the Ride of the Valkyries, the Preludes to Acts 1 & 3 of Lohengrin, the Prelude and Liebestod of Tristan and the Wesendonck Lieder. Let's hope it does sell well !

Jul. 16 2010 05:55 PM
Michael Meltzer

The lawsuit by a music critic against the Cleveland Plain Dealer, purportedly fired for a series of bad reviews of Maestro Welser-Most and purportedly fired in response to pressure from the orchestra, has reached scandal proportions in Cleveland.
You might want to tread softly with this recording, at least check out the story.

Jul. 16 2010 09:24 AM
Manny jakel

WAGNER'S MUSIC BEAUTIFUL? ABSOLUTELY NOT. POWERFUL, YES. EXITING, YES. BUT BEAUTIFUL, NO !!!!!

WAGNER WOULDN'T KNOW THE BEAUTY OF MUSIC IF HE SLIPPED ON A SHEET. AND THAT THE REASON HE IS HARDLY EVER HEARD OR EVER PLAYED. IN FACT HE HAD HIS BEST YEAR DURING THE FILM "APOCOLYPSE NOW", WHEN ROBER DUVAL LOVED THE SMELL OF NAPALM IN THE MORNING.
WAGNER WAS A SOFT HEADED MAN WITH A PETRIFIED BRAIN. HE WAS HELD IN AN ASYLUM FOR 2 YEARS.

Jul. 15 2010 10:53 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Of course, it is easier for a composer to recognize and comprehend the "architectural" elements of a composition, than it would be for the average music lover. WAGNER''s music is, I repeat, for a composer easily comprehensible as to the composer's intentions, and his signature in terms of mood or emotion, if you will concede, is a matter of personal "chemistry."

Jul. 13 2010 06:00 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Apropos of the fact that the "Wagner Preludes, Overtures and Lieder" concert at Severance Hall recorded "live" last February with Maestro Franz Weiser-Most conducting the Cleveland Orchestra included the Wesendonck Lieder, I must applaud, give kudos, for its inclusion. Madame Wesendonck, besides having written the poems Wagner set to music, was his Muse, his inspiration for his "Tristan und Isolde" Two of the songs, "Im Treibhaus" and "Traume" were "studies" for his "Tristan". The former is heard in Act 3 and the latter in the Garden Scene of Act 2.

Jul. 12 2010 04:58 PM

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