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The Romantics / Roger Norrington

Norrington / Swr Radio Symphony Orch Stuttgart
Release Date: 10/09/2007 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93901  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyRichard WagnerHector Berlioz
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



NORRINGTON: THE ROMANTICS & Roger Norrington, cond; Stuttgart RSO HÄNSSLER 93.901 (DVD: 195: 00)


TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, “Pathetique.” WAGNER Tristan und Isolde: Prelude. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Prelude. BERLIOZ Read more Le corsaire: Overture


& Interviews, rehearsal footage, documentaries, live concert performances


Sir Roger Norrington, continuing his quest for authentic period performances, moves forward from the Baroque, Classical, and the early Romantic periods to the late Romantics and to Tchaikovsky and Wagner. His aim: to make the music sound as fresh and exciting as it was when first conceived. Interestingly, he asserts that the Romantic composers did not consider themselves as “Romantic,” but rather “Modern.”


For authenticity, Norrington arranges the Stuttgart Orchestra in accordance with 18th- and 19th-century performing practices, i.e., first and second violins on either side of the conductor, etc., and bowing and phrasing without vibrato. Vibrato is anathema to Norrington. He comments that no orchestras played with vibrato until well into the 20th century and that composers expected the music to be played with a clean, more innocent sound concentrating on the beauty of the phrasing and what the music had to say. He demonstrates, for instance, how the Parsifal Holy Grail music achieves a purer, more mystical sound with subtler colorations as it passes from right to left across the orchestra, “ceremonial” trumpets and trombones bending beautifully with “heavenly-sounding” woodwinds. During his rehearsals of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony, Norrington insists that too many performances have exacerbated the effects of vibrato by exaggeratedly slow tempos and accents, debasing the emotion to the point of vulgarity. Although Tchaikovsky left no specific program detail for this symphony, Norrington seeks some general meaning to aid interpretation, suggesting it is a portrait of life: its tragedies and triumphs (the third movement’s optimistic music—in a mostly pessimistic work—implying, perhaps, Tchaikovsky’s own successes) and, ultimately, after the tam-tam stroke of the finale, a calm acceptance of death.


Sir Roger desires to turn back the clock on continuously slower and slower performances of the German heavy Romantics (where many equate “slow” with “reverent”). Citing Wagner’s own published instructions for conducting Die Meistersinger , Norrington argues that many performances of the overture are too slow, too pompous. Instead, he appeals for a lighter, more joyous treatment—after all, it is a comedy and the action is set around a local festival; it is not a study in national pride. His concern about tempos is also raised in his coverage of Tristan , where he talks about the influences on Wagner’s music.


Turning back to the early-Romantic period, Norrington considers Berlioz’s Le corsaire , admitting the technical difficulties of this fast-moving work. He proudly acknowledges the skill of his Stuttgart players, claiming that they had never played it before. Norrington opts to take some risks with the music, to have fun with the overture—suggesting, with sword-like thrusts of his baton, that the players should think of the swagger and romance of the old Errol Flynn swashbucklers, reminding them that the inspiration was Byron’s poem and that Berlioz saw himself as something of a romantic brigand. Thus the concert performance has snap and bite, yet tenderness and yearning, too, in the romantic sections.


FANFARE: Ian Lace
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
2.
Tristan und Isolde: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
3.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
4.
Le corsaire Overture, Op. 21 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; France 

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