Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, Karl Böhm, Rafael Kubelik|
Wagner: Overtures & Preludes
This is a dazzling collection of nonvocal excerpts from Wagner's operas, from the peace and loveliness of Rafael Kubelik's Siegfried Idyll to the passionate, disturbed Prelude to the first act of Tristan, led by Karl Bohm,... more »
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This is a dazzling collection of nonvocal excerpts from Wagner's operas, from the peace and loveliness of Rafael Kubelik's Siegfried Idyll to the passionate, disturbed Prelude to the first act of Tristan, led by Karl Bohm, and the wild Ride of the Valkyries, with Herbert von Karajan in a particularly rambunctious mood. Other highlights in the two and a half hours of music are transcendent readings of two Parsifal excerpts by Eugen Jochum and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and a Flying Dutchman set. But couldn't DG have tried to include some information about anything in their teeny paper insert? --Robert Levine
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For What It Is, It's Great
Doc Sarvis | 07/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great as he is, Richard Wagner isn't always the easiest composer to discover: Since (with few exceptions) he really wrote only opera, one either has to plunge into his full-length works (which can be intimidating for the uninitiated) or settle for one of these "Overtures" compilations, which usually feature his non-vocal work. To some extent the "overtures" approach can be frustrating, since Wagner's greatest work is firmly imbedded within his operas, and becasue anyone who discovers a love of Wagner will likely buy the complete works anyway. But, having said that, this collection is an excellent choice among the many Wagner "overtures" samplers available. For one thing, it contains more than just overtures. Notably, "Siegfried Idyll", a lovely piece originally composed as a chamber work by Wagner for his wife as a Christmas present, draws upon themes from "Siegfried" in a satisfying, inclusive way. (Interestingly, this piece will likely be the first Wagner work to be played in Israel, in a concert scheduled for later this year). This CD also contains pieces from "Tristan und Isolde", (usually not included in collections of this type and indispensible as part of a Wagner introduction), and a with-vocals version of "Ride of the Valkyries", (also a wise inclusion, for once you've heard this with the opera singers it's hard to imagine it without them).Minor quips: It would have been lovely to hear the "wedding march" theme (yes, it's the same theme you're thinking of) that immediately follows the third act Prelude from "Lohengrin". Also, the review is correct in stating that more liner notes are needed. I suggest reading Berger's "Wagner Without Fear" to learn some of the background behind this complex, controversial man and his sublime works.Enjoy!"
Terrific compilation, with one exception
John Grabowski | USA | 05/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm generally not a "compilation" kinda guy, but with the epic Wagner operas you often don't have a choice, for how often do you have the time, the urge and the bladder capacity to sit through four-and-a-half hours of shrieking Vikings? So if you'd like to have all (or many of) Rickie's Greatest Moments in one handy slimline CD case for the car or whatever, there is probably no better set than this. You get some of the best orchestras of the German tradition, and such revered old-school stickwavers as Jochum, Bohm, Kubelik, and Karajan. The magnificent, epic Rienzi Overture, a piece not heard often enough in my view, starts things on a positive note, but then fasten your seatbelts for a thrilling wild ride with the Flying Dutchman, conducted by Karajan as you've never heard him before, burning all bridges and taking no prisoners. Unfortunately, after that the set suffers its one huge drop: Otto Gerdes conducts the Berlin Opera Orchestra in one of Wagner's most thrilling overtures, Tannhauser. But this is a stiff and weak performance of that masterpiece, and after the first two magnificent works this sounds like amateur hour by comparison. I can't believe DG didn't have a better Tannhauser somewhere in their vaults. This is the only selection that mars this set.
The rest, including a spirited Lohengrin by Kubelik (is anything by Kubelik ever less than spirited?), a hair-raising Ride of the Valkyries by Karajan, and a passionate and mysterious Tristan by Bohm (whose Tristan I wouldn't expect to be this passionate). After a beautiful and intimate Siegfried Idyll and a portentious Gotterdammerung, the set ends with a suitably devout Prelude and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal. One work I wish had been included here: "Dance of the Apprentices" from Meistersinger, the only Waltz Wagner ever penned, and a marvelous one.
With the exception of Tannhauser, one feels that DG chose exactly the right orchestras and conductors for these works: no one quite digs in with the weight and burnished veneer of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. Vienna gives the comparatively "lighter" and earlier Rienzi overture a clarity ideal for the contrapuntal lines.
One puzzlement: Amazon reviewer Robert Levine mustn't have listened all the way through: this set is not "without voice," as he states. There is a soprano and a mezzo-soprano (not credited!) in Karajan's Ride of the Valkyries, although the way he treats them they might as well not be there. Levine is right that the liner notes and recording information is inexcusably skimpy. DG is getting lazy. Still, this set is superb, and the price is, needless to say, very right."
The Only Truly Memorable Tracks On This 2 Disc Album Are Joc
dv_forever | Michigan, USA | 11/05/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviewers are stating that this is some sort of great introduction to Wagner, when I think they are not aware of many other terrific orchestral Wagner CDs. EMI has recently released an outstanding CD by Karajan of various Wagner preludes and overtures from the non "Ring" operas. That CD is part of EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" catalogue and it's also available in the "Karajan Collection". Two different pressings, exact same thing.
To get some juicy "Ring" selections, you should investigate George Szell's oustanding CD on Sony Essential Classics which is uniquely captivating as far as orchestral excerpts from the Ring operas go.
Getting back to this DG Double, here is my rundown of all the tracks. The Rienzi Overture is done well by Karl Bohm but it's nothing remarkable. The Flying Duthchman also conducted by Bohm is played with gusto, pretty good. The Tannhauser Overture is an extremely dull run-through by Otto Gerdes, what a nightmare! Listen to Solti instead to get the full power of this terrific piece! The Lohengrin preludes by Kubelik lack the dreamy mysticism and rich power of Karajan's versions on EMI. The preludes to Die Meistersinger are played by Bohm and Jochum, Bohm is too relaxed and slow in the prelude to Act 1 but Jochum finds more life in the prelude to act 3. The ultra-famous "Ride of the Valkyries" is played by Karajan, an excerpt from his complete set of the Ring and yes the soprano soloists are on display here. It's a good account but hardly matches the excitement of Solti's version from his complete Ring recording.
The second CD opens up with powerful excerpts from Tristan and Isolde played by Bohm, the prelude and Act 3 intro are taken from his famous Bayreuth set with Birgit Nilsson. Nilsson however is not represented in the final Liebestod, instead a later, not very passionate Bohm recording is tacked on. The Siegfried Idyll is conducted by Kubelik and is not very memorable, certainly lacking the romantic abandon of the famous Karajan versions. Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Gotterdammerung is led by Karajan and sounds great.
Finally we get to the best part of this 2CD package, Eugen Jochum's performances of the Prelude and Good Friday Music from Wagner's final masterpiece, Parsifal. Both sound highly involved and deeply spiritual, the sound is great for something that was recorded way back in 1957. The brass get a bit edgy but it's not much of a worry, the readings are exceptional.
If you're a Wagner newbie, this 2CD set might satisfy you but I recommend you go and buy that EMI Karajan CD and the Ring excerpts by Szell, listen to those and you'll be well on your way to tackling a full opera. The most accessible opera to start with is Lohengrin."