WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Wagner: Orchestral Excerpts / Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra

Wagner / Klemperer,Otto
Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 31827   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Should be on the shelves of any admirer of the composer.

I only heard Klemperer conducting Wagner live once, in the Royal Festival Hall when he was recording Der Fliegende Holländer. It left a tremendous impression and I have seldom heard the composer conducted with such passion and understanding. It remains a matter of infinite regret that EMI did not record more complete Wagner operas, or even more whole Acts; Testament have Act 1 of Der Walküre and there are some earlier live recordings from his time in the 1940s in Budapest but that is all apart from Der Fliegende Holländer. They did however record the series of orchestral excerpts that are collected on these two very
Read more well filled discs. It is perhaps best simply to be grateful that these exist rather than to continue pondering what else might have been.

At one time there was a seemingly unending demand for “bleeding chunks” of Wagner to include in orchestral concerts, including the regular Wagner nights at the Proms. Such brief delights as the “Chorus of the Flower Maidens” and “Procession of the Grail” from Parsifal, or the “Shepherd’s song” from Tannhäuser were heard regularly, although if you were very (un?)lucky you might get something like Morena’s “Souvenirs de Bayreuth”, a grand and wholly tasteless selection from all Wagner’s mature operas in chronological order. Fortunately we are spared these on the present discs which concentrate on the usual Overtures, Preludes and other more satisfactory extracts such the Ride of the Valkyries and Siegfried’s Funeral March. All are given superbly lucid performances in recordings which allow both the depth of the orchestra’s tone and the complexity of the orchestration to be fully displayed. They are about half a century old but I would doubt whether anyone interested in these discs primarily for the music-making on them would have any concerns about the quality of the recording. In particular improvements in the last fifty years have not always matched the care for balance we find here.

The brief but interesting notes on the performances by John Lucas rightly draw attention to Klemperer’s long experience of conducting Wagner, right from his first Lohengrins when he was only 24 and including all the mature operas before he was 30. This certainly shows in his immense care and understanding over pacing, phrasing and balance. Despite his reputation these performances in general are not unusually slow but the speeds chosen always allow sufficient time to articulate the music and to balance its various musical strands properly. Klemperer was not one of those conductors who tried to obtain always a thoroughly blended sound in the wood wind and brass; on the contrary he encouraged the individuality of the instruments to appear. The Overtures to the two earliest operas here - Rienzi and Der Fliegende Holländer show this particularly well, and both are unusually exciting as a result.

One especial delight here is the Siegfried Idyll, played with solo strings as at the first performance, and not unduly indulged with the slow speeds which many modern conductors prefer. Its sheer beauty of tone and clear musical narrative make it worth the price for the set on its own. These are recordings that should be on the shelves of any admirer of the composer whatever dark thoughts may keep surfacing about the Wagner that Klemperer was never given the opportunity to record.

-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Rienzi: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
2. Tannhäuser: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
3. Tannhäuser: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
4. Lohengrin: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
5. Lohengrin: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
6. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
7. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Dance of the Apprentices by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
8. Parsifal: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
9. Der fliegende Holländer: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
10. Das Rheingold: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Germany 
11. Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
12. Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Germany 
13. Siegfried: Forest Murmurs [Instrumental] by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
14. Götterdämmerung: Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
15. Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
16. Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 

Sound Samples

Rienzi - Overture (2002 Digital Remaster)
Tannhäuser - Overture (2002 Digital Remaster)
Tannhäuser - Prelude Act III (2002 Digital Remaster)
Lohengrin - Prelude Act 1 (2002 Digital Remaster)
Lohengrin - Prelude Act III (2002 Digital Remaster)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Overture (2002 Digital Remaster)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Dance of the Apprecticess & Entry of the Masters (Act III) (2002 Digital Remaster)
Parsifal - Prelude (2002 Digital Remaster)
Der Fliegende Holländer - Overture (2002 Digital Remaster)
Das Rheingold - Entry of the Gods into Valhalla (2002 Digital Remaster)
Die Walküre - Ride of the Valkyries (2002 Digital Remaster)
Siegfried Idyll (2002 Digital Remaster)
Siegfried - Forest Murmurs (2002 Digital Remaster)
Götterdämmerung - Siegfried's Rhine Journey (2002 Digital Remaster)
Götterdämmerung - Siegfried's Funeral March (2002 Digital Remaster)
Tristan und Isolde - Prelude and Liebstod (2002 Digital Remaster)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook