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The Vienna Philharmonic Plays Wagner / Solti


Release Date: 07/10/2007 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000897802   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WAGNER Rienzi: Overture. Der fliegende Holländer: Overture. Tannhäuser: Overture; Bacchanale. 1 Siegfied Idyll Georg Solti, cond; Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde; 1 Vienna PO DECCA 000897802 (68:11)


The Decca Read more “Originals” series is known for fine transfers of significant recordings, and the present instance is no exception. These analog recordings were made in the Sofiensaal, Vienna, in October 1961 (except for the Siegfried Idyll , which followed a little over a year later) by John Culshaw and Gordon Parry. It sits, therefore, bang in the middle of the studio recording of the Ring (1958–1965). The Vienna Philharmonic is in fine form. The string sound is glorious; the winds are beautifully balanced; the brass blazes like no other brass can.


The Overture to Rienzi is the only part of Wagner’s third opera to survive in the concert hall, or elsewhere for that matter. My Fanfare colleague, Colin Anderson, is right to call this an “all or nothing rendition” in his booklet notes. Solti finds real mystery in the opening (what beautiful sound the lower strings make, yet how full of foreboding it is!) before the long-breathed melody comes out of its chrysalis. Solti has the effect of actually making one want to hear the rest of the piece, especially in the wake of the energy of the (arguably bombastic) closing pages.


The Overture to Der fliegende Holländer returns us to familiar territory, and the blazing, storm-tossed opening is just the sort of thing that set Solti alight. Certainly this is a reading of contrasts but it is in the passages of sheer bravado that Solti and the Vienna orchestra excel. Yet the prayer-like opening to Tannhäuser reveals a delicate hand at work. In fact, Solti is in danger of loving the cello’s entry to death (some hints of string portamento later emphasize this impression). As so often with this conductor, one is so involved in the minutiae of each individual phrase and moment that the larger picture becomes in danger of being obscured. The climax is grand, however, and the inclusion of the Bacchanale is to be heartily welcomed. This latter receives a most convincing performance, out of which emerges a Siegfried Idyll in which we hear Solti at his most unbuttoned and affectionate. The members of a very reduced Vienna Philharmonic reveal the essence of chamber music here in an account that is the crowning glory of this disc. Textures are often gossamer, and just as often playful; the close hangs in the air long after the music has stopped. Magical.


Very much worth seeking out.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Der fliegende Holländer: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
2.
Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Germany 
3.
Rienzi: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
4.
Tannhäuser: Overture and Venusberg Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 

Sound Samples

Rienzi: Overture
Der fliegende Holländer: Overture
Tannhäuser: Overture
Tannhäuser / Act 1: Bacchanale
Siegfried Idyll

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