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Wagner en Suisse / Thomas Rosner, Orchestre Symphonique Bienne

Wagner / Orchestre Symphonique Bienne / Rosner
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 2580   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard WagnerChristoph W. GluckRichard Strauss
Performer:  Daniel KobylianskyLouise Pellerin
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This interesting disc, Wagner en Suisse , contrasts a couple of Wagnerian byways with the better-known Siegfried Idyll and Strauss Oboe Concerto, throwing in a short film for good measure. It works remarkably well.

The Siegfried Idyll begins in the gentlest of fashions. The violin portamento seems entirely in place, more a nod toward the practice of the period than an attempt to over-syrup Wagner. The prevailing impression is gentleness. Climaxes are on the restrained side, yet their contained ecstasy is most compelling. The Read more performance tends toward a drawn-out lullaby at times. Solos are well crafted, particularly from the horn and flute. Flow is of the utmost importance here. The orchestra uses period horns.

It is to the couplings that most buyers will gravitate, however. Wagner’s 1854 arrangement of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide is heard here for the first time (there is another version extant from publishers operating at Wagner’s time, but the version here was discovered only in the 1990s in the Zurich Central Library). If the opening is as robust as one might reasonably expect, there is great mystery in the main body of the piece (it emerges as a sort of Gluck-meets- Freischütz ). The performance is entirely credible, with a palpable sense of repose in the final measures, but with some real beef earlier.

The Faust Overture was a favorite of Toscanini. Its dark opening (superbly caught here, by both players and engineers) is memorable. Henry Fogel praised an Abendroth performance in Fanfare 24:4. The present Swiss performance is full of dark drama. In fact it excels in the ruminative, glowering sections; the tender contrast, too, is well done. But the fiercer outbursts suffer from a rather harsh top end. The piece has been (rightly, in my view) likened to a Liszt tone poem. The Bienne performance here is a fine one, nobly considered, and the work is given due weight. The violin-led performance of Träume is not quite so noble. Orchestral tuning is suspect on a number of occasions. Daniel Koblyansky is a fine violinist, but to be frank it sounds like it is just he who has practiced his part, and the recording sounds as if it were made at the end of the sessions.

Wagner and Richard Strauss make for fine bedfellows, and Strauss’s autumnal, exquisitely crafted Oboe Concerto is the perfect way to end. Louise Pellerin has a gorgeous, rich oboe sound that perfectly suits this autumnal masterpiece. The recording is very close (so close that there is the occasional key click), but in a work of long lines for the soloist, this is not all a bad thing. This is a tasteful performance, one of great integrity that rounds the disc off nicely.

The “extra” is a video of a performance of some of the Idyll in the Triebschen villa. As the music starts, the doors open to reveal the players on the staircase. It is a lovely idea and the setting certainly enhances the performance (although the performance is not complete and fades out). Strings play on the landing; woodwind are on the flight of stairs leading up, brass on that leading down. The event is introduced by Chris Walton. Two of my players failed to detect the file, though, so beware. But it could just be my technophobia.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Germany 
Iphigénie en Aulide: Overture by Christoph W. Gluck
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1772-1774; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Arrangement: Richard Wagner 
Faust Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1844; Germany 
Wesendonck Lieder: no 5, Träume by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Daniel Kobyliansky (Violin)
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Concerto for Oboe in D major, AV 144 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Louise Pellerin (Oboe)
Conductor:  Thomas Rösner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1945-1948; Germany 

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