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Siegfried Wagner: Der Kobold / Strobel, Broberg, Horn, Et Al

Release Date: 05/29/2007 
Label:  Marco Polo   Catalog #: 8225329   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Siegfried Wagner
Conductor:  Frank Strobel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

S. WAGNER Der Kobold Frank Strobel, cond; Rebecca Broberg ( Verena ); Regina Mauel ( Gertrud ); Andreas Mitschke ( Ekhart ); Achim Hoffmann ( Trutz ); Johannes Föttinger ( Fink ); Philipp Meierhöfer ( Kümmel ); Volker Horn ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Friedrich ); Nicholas Isherwood ( Der Graf ); Martina Borst ( Die Gräfin ); Ksenija Lukic ( Jeannette ); Marco Bappert ( Jean ); Joachim Höchbauer ( Knorz ); Heike Kohler ( Käthe ); Young Jae Park ( Seelchen ); PPP Music Theatre Ens; Nuremberg SO Marco Polo 8.225329 (3 CDs: 195:27)

Each time I listen to this recording of The Goblin , I am utterly unnerved—do not be fooled by the descending flute figures that cue the overture, like Pan himself coming down to bless the land. Obviously, there is no shortage of warped and twisted librettos, which tend to serve as jumping off points for music yet more warped and twisted, but my goodness, our man Siegfried was exorcising some personal demons with this work—ironically, by enlivening some.

The first “sung” note, once the gentle, autumnal instrumental opening has concluded, is a scream, one that comes through on the recording like a spike—no reverb, no vibrato, just fear, hammered home. We are dealing with a dramatis personae of goblins (including one whose entrance into the world comes courtesy of a mixture of a hanged man’s seed and the yellow grass below), a wizard, some assassins, night phantoms, a few satyrs, a circus collective, a rapist, and such cheery pursuits as infanticide, abortion, flesh trading, and prestidigitation for, shall we say, less than salubrious ends. Good luck sorting out the plot, which is about as close to postmodernism as Siegfried ever got, and features an opera within the opera, and a climax not dissimilar to F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu , which had the subtitle, intriguingly enough, of “A Symphony of Horrors.”

The quality of the recording itself will jar you, but that’s part of its effectiveness—weapons crash to the ground as though they’ve landed on microphones, or like something is kicking inside the speakers and trying to get out. It’s a fascinating, weird kind of audio-vérité, that further unsettles the nerves; but distortion was Siegfried’s ally in the creation of this work, and some passages even appear, at first, to be atonal. Rebecca Broberg as Verena, the opera’s heroine—a default designation, really, in this case, given her successive and ultimately defeating tragedies—is really stretched on the rack in her exceedingly taxing role, and it is through her vocal lines that we experience whatever empathy—which often takes the forms of anxiety and fear—the opera has to offer. It’s been remarked that for all of its fantastical elements, Der Kobold is something of a gangster story, but the noir -ish element becomes almost hallucinatory in the constant churn of crises, a vortex of demonism, you might say—of both the supernatural and human variety, the latter, of course, always being worse. Cpo has a Siegfried Wagner sampler disc with the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra and Roman Trekel handling an excerpt, but for the whole, vivid nightmare, you’ll need this set to be properly shocked and disturbed. And for those who cherish their illusions of childhood, there is perhaps no 20th-century opera that poses such a menacing threat to any and all forms of latency.

FANFARE: Colin Fleming
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Works on This Recording

Der Kobold, Op. 3 by Siegfried Wagner
Conductor:  Frank Strobel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; Germany 
Venue:  State Theater, Fürth, Germany 
Length: 195 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: State Theater, Fürth, Germany (11/10/2005 - 11/12/2005) 

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