Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, Klaus Tennstedt, London Philharmonic Orchestra|
Orchestral Excerpts from Wagner Operas
Listen to Samples
Performance Five Stars; Sound Four Stars
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Klaus Tennstedt was a master of Wagnerian opera. He and the London Philharmonic were artistically and emotionally made for each other and his tenure with them was a high point both for the orchestra and for Tennstedt. Unfortunately his time with them was cut short by increasingly ill health. This live recording from the 1992 Proms demonstrates their close psychological connection. These are simply outstanding performances. The only problem is that in the fortissimo climaxes of, say, the Meistersinger Prelude or the Tannhäuser Overture the sound tends to become a bit clotted. This is largely, I suspect, due to the difficult acoustics of the Royal Albert Hall. But in the softer moments -- and in spite of what one might think, there are lots of such passages in Wagner's orchestral music -- Tennstedt's approach is almost as if he were conducting chamber music. There is tenderness, lyricism and delicacy in such moments. Not only that, Tennstedt manages the tempo and dynamic changes, as in the Rienzi or the Tannhäuser excerpts, with great sensitivity and complete control. 'Siegfried's Funeral Music' is given as moving a performance as I've ever heard. The LPO play their hearts out for him. String tone is lush, woodwinds are plangent, brass are thrilling. For live recordings they are really quite remarkable.
This is the third issue from the new LPO label, the London Philharmonic's own label -- so many musical organizations are making their own recordings now, witness John Eliot Gardiner's Bach cantata recordings just beginning to come out -- and it is wonderful that this one, and others, are coming from a Golden Age of the LPO. The orchestra has had its up and downs but in 1992 they were at the top of their form. The Proms audience show their enthusiasm by vigorous applause which, on this recording, is moderated and cut short in order avoid the annoyance applause can give rise to on repeated listenings. But one can still feel the excitement of the audience, and feel it oneself as well.
These are superb performances only modestly diminished by the occasional sonic problems.
"Music-making on a more exalted plane filled Albert Hall to
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't help quoting one of the London reviewers in the aftermath of an electrifying Wagner program conducted by Tennstedt in August, 1992. It's too bad that Albert Hall had to be the place, because the sound on this recording is diffuse and unfocused -- it's no better than what you'd hear from a home FM-radio broadcast. Even so, every work is conducted with joyous inspiration. If I were driving down the road and heard ten bars of anything on this generous (76 min.) CD, I'd pull over and wait until I found out who the conductor was. Tennstedt had the rare ability to imbue music with exultant life, as you immediately hear from the Meistersinger Prelude that opens the program. One is reminded that Wagner's only comedy is meant to be full of light and laughter. Not many readings of the Prelude evoke that feeling, but Tennstedt's does.
On to the Rienzi Over., which most critics would recommend in a precise, disciplined recording by Szell and the Clevelanders from the Sixties (on Sony), but here Tennstedt goes far beyond that, creating the kind of drama and suspense one never imagined that the music contains. There is some marred attack in the brass, and the London Phil. cannot claim to achieve Szell's exact ensemble, but the ride is a thrill from beginning to end. In my experience, this is a one-of-a-kind performance. Actually, I was unprepared for such a reaction. Much as I admire Tennstedt, his previous Wagner recordings for EMI with the Berlin Phil. struck me as stiff-necked, even out of sorts, with a touch of crudeness in the orchestral playing. Unpredictability has its price.
Moving on to familiar excerpts from Gotterdammergung, Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey, followed by Siegfried's Funeral March, one misses the glorious golden sonority of the Vienna Phil. under Solti, all the more because the engineers ride the gain during big climaxes. But little can detract from the incredible aliveness that Tennstedt imparts, especially to the Funeral March, for once completely free of bombast. He delivers the kind of life-or-death urgency that brings out the ecstasy of great music. (I can't resist repeating something from a mystical book I read thirty years ago. It was purportedly a question and answer session with God. Asked what the music of the spheres sounds like, the Almighty replied, "It's indescribable. The closest human equivalent is the music of Wagner." I understand.)
There's no need to take you through the Tannhauser Over. and Venusberg Music, or the Ride of the Valkyries, although the critic quoted in my headline calls the latter the greatest he ever heard. Needless to say, the crowd at that Prom was beside itself. This CD is a joyous triumph and the only program of Wagner excerpts since the era of Furtwangler that I'd call indispensable (with Klemperer's two-disc set on EMI as runner-up)."