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Wagner: Lohengrin / Barenboim, Seiffert, Magee, Trekel

Wagner / Seiffert / Struckmann / Polaski
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 78994   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  René PapeEmily MageeRoman TrekelFalk Struckmann,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle OrchestraBerlin Staatskapelle Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Barenboim's extended journey into Wagnerian territory has now brought him to the banks of the River Scheldt and the landing is a happy one. The recording is based on the cast with which he performed the opera at the Berlin State Opera in 1996, although the tenor taking the title-role is different, and it benefits from that stage experience in terms of dedicated, confident readings on all sides, most of all in the execution of Barenboim's superbly disciplined chorus and orchestra. The chorus, so important in this work, sings with refinement, discipline and enthusiasm in its many roles while all departments of the orchestra play the score to the hilt.

Barenboim himself manages to give an overriding unity to a work that
Read more can, in lesser hands, sprawl. That's particularly true as regards Act 2, where all the comings-and-goings can test a listener's concentration; not here when the conductor so unerringly weaves the disparate elements into a coherent, forward-moving whole. Barenboim is also to be commended for playing Act 3 complete, restoring not only the theatre cuts often made in recording but also the second verse of Lohengrin's Grail narration, cut by Wagner before the first night. Furtwangler restored the latter at Bayreuth in 1936 (as Barenboim tells us in an interesting note) and Leinsdorf did the same in his 1965 RCA set, notable, incidentally, for KOnya's outstanding Lohengrin. In the opera house it is sensibly omitted because it lengthens the act unduly and gives a flagging tenor too much to do, but it's good to have it included here. My only reservation concerns the famous Prelude to Act 3 which seems too brash and too fast; perhaps Barenboim was trying to say something new about the overfamiliar. All the singers, bar one, are regulars at the Berlin State Opera. The exception is Seiffert as Lohengrin, who in tone, phrasing and sheer lyrical ardour makes a near-ideal white knight challenging the current hegemony in the role of Heppner, who sings on the Davis set. His Elsa is Emily Magee, a welcome American newcomer, who has also been Bayreuth's Eva for the past two summers. She is strikingly similar to Studer (Abbado's Elsa), her tone full and refulgent, her interpretation deeply felt. My one worry is that her voice is so much like that of Polaski that they are hard to tell apart in their long confrontation in Act 2. Polaski makes a splendidly forceful and articulate Ortrud, rather in the manner of her American forerunner in the role, Astrid Varnay on the Keilberth set. Occasionally she sounds taxed by heavier passages, most worryingly in her closing imprecations, and she doesn't have the vocal steadiness and opulence of Kempe's Ludwig. Nor is Struckmann's Telramund as tortured as FischerDieskau's in that set, or Hermann Uhde's for Keilberth at Bayreuth, but these vital, involving interpretations have their own validity. Pape is a model King Henry, pouring out his concerns in golden tone. Trekel is a strong Herald."

-- Gramophone [1/1999] Reviewing original release
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Works on This Recording

Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass), Emily Magee (Soprano), Roman Trekel (Baritone),
Falk Struckmann (Baritone), Peter Seiffert (Tenor), Deborah Polaski (Soprano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 

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