WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Wagner: Overtures, Preludes, Arias / Andre Cluytens, Et Al


Release Date: 04/08/2003 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1256   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Rita Gorr
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $25.98
CD:  $21.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews

French recordings of Wagner generally receive scant attention, just as for years the quality of French orchestras was routinely underestimated by British, German, and American critics whose tastes in Wagner ran rather to the "dark and heavy" school of sonority. But Wagner's orchestral origins remain those of French grand opera, and to hear his music played like one, especially in a fantastic-sounding and immaculately remastered recording such as this, is to believe. Direct comparison, item by item (as far as possible) between this superlative disc and Klemperer's celebrated Philharmonia recordings for the same label made at the same time clearly reveals the superiority of the French ensemble in just about every department. Indeed, Read more Cluytens and his orchestra sound so much better that it leads you to wonder how it is that the Klemperer's recordings, good as they are, wound up on EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" series while these were simply farmed out to a small independent label. Nationalistic prejudice? Sheer laziness or lack of interest? You be the judge.


Let's take one work at a time. Listen to the tangy timbre of the trumpets at the opening of the Meistersinger Prelude, and to the lusciously fruity tone of the woodwind section coloring the brass in the processional theme, more prominent than Klemperer's despite his reputation for front-and-center woodwind placement. Cluytens' quicker tempo is a big plus too (he is a superb Wagner conductor; Wieland Wagner thought so, and welcomed him at Bayreuth). Despite England being the land of Dennis Brain and generally fabulous horn virtuosos, you'll hear a more robust horn section in the French orchestra in both the Tannhäuser and Flying Dutchman Overtures, and far superior trombone playing too--a fine cutting tone that never turns coarse. Compare that to the feeble Philharmonia's heavy brass. The strings in the Lohengrin Prelude to Act 1 phrase in rapt arches, abetted by a comparatively swift tempo (eight minutes as opposed to around 10 on average) that makes the opening sound like a series of musical phrases rather than a collection of detached violin harmonics. The Act 3 Prelude has all of the advantages enumerated above with respect to the brass, and far more enthusiastic percussion than Klemperer enjoys. Finally, Rita Gorr sounds aptly nasty as Ortrud, a touch matronly as Isolde, but more than holds her own against Cluytens' vibrant conducting and the orchestra's enthusiastic playing.


The point of this head-to-head comparison is not to prove Klemperer "bad", or the Philharmonia in any way "inadequate". Neither would be true. But it's certainly sobering to realize that acclamations of "excellence" in this business are all too often a function of fuzzy memory, extra-musical considerations, random availability of comparisons, or simply the last recording heard. Many reference recordings (Beecham's Scheherazade, for example) maintain their reputations through sheer inertia and the unwillingness of critics and listeners to keep their ears open and their prejudices on hold. This will be particularly true if you grew up reading English-language review publications wherein French orchestras in the late 1950s and early '60s could do nothing right. Certainly, they had a unique sound, and now that it's largely gone it's high time we lauded these ensembles and what they could do. One of the things they sure as hell could do in the hands of a conductor like Cluytens (or Schuricht) was offer a Wagner far more exciting, rhythmically deft, colorful, and yes, idiomatic than just about anyone else around at the same time--including Berlin and Vienna. Buy this, and be amazed. [5/31/2003]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
2.
Tannhäuser: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
3.
Der fliegende Holländer: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
4.
Lohengrin: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
5.
Lohengrin: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
6.
Lohengrin: Entweihte Götter! Helft jetzt meine Rache! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Rita Gorr (Soprano)
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
7.
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise "Liebestod" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Rita Gorr (Soprano)
Conductor:  André Cluytens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 

Customer Reviews

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




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In