Notes and Editorial Reviews
Tristan und Isolde:
Prelude and Love-Death.
Magic Fire Music; Ride of the Valkyries.
Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla.
Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral Music
Yondani Butt, cond; London SO
class="ARIAL12"> NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6164 (79:53)
This has been a difficult collection to review because I could never make up my mind about just what I was hearing. Are these calculated, refined performances, deliberately presented with a lighter-than-usual texture, or are they merely tentative, cautious readings using an undersized string section? Except for
The Ride of the Valkyries
, the tempos are on the slow side. In that particular performance, you’ll miss a few details you’re accustomed to hearing and hear some that you probably never noticed before. Were these the conductor’s choices? The
Prelude is given a slow, refined treatment, building gradually to its broad climax, and the
moves in its leisurely way to a broad climax. It’s quite effective, but what I think I’m hearing is cool calculation without most of the passion beneath the smooth surface. A slower tempo imparts a dignified solemnity to the
Overture but I wish the strings had more power. Yondani Butt does the Dresden version … just as well since he might have done the least sensuous of Bacchanals. The excerpt called the
Magic Fire Music
actually begins just after Wotan has promised Brünnhilde that he’ll surround her with threatening flames. Shortly thereafter comes a small cut to the fire music itself. At this tempo, the violin configurations are too clear and make the performance sound methodical rather than magical. I recall a Stokowski rehearsal of
at which he instructed half of the violins to play the music with two beats to the measure, as written, but told the others to play the same configurations at
triplets to the measure, thereby creating the sonic buzz that Stokowski (rightly, I think) believed that Wagner wanted. I like hearing the Valhalla motif at Butt’s measured pace, though I’ve heard more dynamic performances of the
Entrance of the Gods
. The dawn breaks slowly before
Siegfried’s Rhine Journey
and the seemingly undersized string section doesn’t execute its ornaments cleanly. The brief reference to the Love Duet is unhurried (he does a bit more of it than most conductors) but he’s pretty much up to standard tempo the rest of the way. I wish he had included
but his deliberate tempo results in an imposing
. Most conductors who perform Wagner’s music slowly also give it a certain weight and power. Butt, slow but also refined and lighter-textured, has his own take on the music and for the most part, I think it works—it certainly isn’t your average Wagner collection.
FANFARE: James Miller
Works on This Recording
Tannhäuser: Overture by Richard Wagner
Written: 1845/1861; Germany
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London
Length: 16 Minutes 26 Secs.
Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Written: 1856; Germany
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London
Length: 4 Minutes 43 Secs.
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