Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra|
Wagner without Words
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Ed B. from WILLIAMSBURG, VA
Reviewed on 10/9/2011...
I was very pleases with the "performances" on this CD.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Great Introduction to Wagner
Ros Saciuk | In the heart of rattlesnake gulch, in the dust cov | 03/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since World War Two Wagner has seemingly had more critics than fans. Although his music dominated the latter part of the 19th century, and is some of the most influential and revolutionary work, his music is associated and remembered with Nazism and Hitler who embraced Wagner's work as the theme music of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, despite its unfortunate interweaving with Adolf's dark vision, Wagner is undoubtedly recognized as one of the most important and monumental figures in music history and demands listening. Remarkably, Wagner was virtually self-trained, and no composer had as little formal training. Like Beethoven, Wagner believed that the world owed him for his music, and as such he lived off of other peoples' money. He was a gambler, drinker, and collector of enormous debts, being chased all over Europe by creditors. In 1864 King Ludwig II of Bavaria, infatuated by the man and the music, gave Wagner carte blanche to the entire resources of Bavaria, which Wagner quickly squandered leading to an economic crisis and his banishment.In "WAGNER WITHOUT WORDS" the listener will enjoy highlights from Wagner's most recognized works including "Ride of the Valkyries," which was made popular by Robert Duval's helicopter charge in Apocalypse Now. But all eight tracks are wonderful, from the ethereal "Forest Murmurs," to one of my all time favorites "Seigfrig's Funeral Music," which, consequently, was played at Wagner's own funeral by a full orchestra as Wagner's casket was lowered into the grave.Nothing bad can be said of George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra who give a good to excellent performance of the pieces. I recommend this CD emphatically and wholeheartedly, so rush out and buy it. But please note, Wagner's music is enormous, full of thunderous themes like cathartic tempests over dark, jagged mountains with a faint ray of sunshine coming from somewhere in the distance, so do yourself and the music a favor and listen through a stereo. You'll be thankful that you do."
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 10/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly very good music-making, falling just a little short in the colors department - for which the Berlin under Karajan or the Philadelphia under Ormandy are the ticket. But that aside it's difficult to accept all this Szell bashing. People still listen to the Cleveland recording of the Dvorak Slavonic Dances and will for years to come. And unless you have to have original instruments it's tough to beat Szell and the Cleveland orchestra's brio and attention to detail in Mozart and Haydn.
Of course some of this carping may be the result of a little bit too much self-esteem and not enough appreciation for just what it takes to lead an orchestra at such a level. I remember in college I happened to be at a small gathering of literary people including a few novelists and poets and one critic,the august Edmund Wilson. Not knowing any better I walked right up to a stern-looking older man looking every bit the serious 'Dean of American Critics' and blurted out how much fun I had reading his story "The Man who Shot Snapping Turtles." Apparently this gushing adolescent accolade softened him a bit, and he talked with me for a couple of minutes. The last question I asked him was what did he consider the most important thing in writing criticism. Mr. Wilson blurted out bluntly, "Get it right!"
Over the years I have always thought there was a world of truth in that rather journalistic maxim. The reviews here are a perfect example. One could write and gush about this and that, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter how many names you drop, or airs you put on, if you cannot recognize quality you're no better than the crook in Gatsby whose idea of a small town where one could safely pass counterfeit bonds over the counter was Detroit.
In the Great Gatsby the crook passing false currency for real is picked up by the police. Unfortunately Amazon readers are easily mislead by glowing praise or, in the case of some of the reviews of the Wagner here, cold dislike. People react to harsh words, and especially when they are well written and sound based on experience. Let me assure you - no one is always right, and there are some people who, for whatever reason, have skewered taste.
The Szell Cleveland Wagner CD here is a series of showpieces, played very very well by the Cleveland orchestra. What sets this apart from many Wagner collections is the astonishing orchestra playing. Szell's orchestra, supreme in Dvorak, brings to Wagner's music a clarity rarely achieved by other orchestras. Superbly balanced, the virtousity of the players is on full display. It's a joy to actually hear all the myriad instrumental sounds in Wagner's score - Wagner played in tune, what a shocking concept. And particularly Wagner devoid of bathos! Tovey used to cite Wagner as perhaps the best of all orchestrators; here we have the Cleveland at the pinnacle of their glory days, a wonderful momento. Writing nasty dismissive words about performances of this caliber says more about the reviewers than it does about the recording.
This has been remastered for SACD and if you have a machine that will play SACDs then that is the one to purchase."