Wagner: Meistersinger, an Orchestral Tribute - Järvi

Wagner: Meistersinger, an Orchestral Tribute - Järvi

Chandos  CHSA 5092

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Meistersinger, an Orchestral Tribute (arr. Henk de Vlieger)
Columbus Overture
Eine Faust Ouverture
2 Entreactes tragiques from König Enzio

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme Järvi

Neeme Järvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the fourth album of their Wagner series. Their performances on the previous three volumes have received high critical acclaim. American Record Guide wrote of Volume 1: ‘This is wonderful playing and sound… Järvi knows exactly what to do to make the music speak. The orchestra sounds better than I’ve ever heard them.’

This disc features a symphonic arrangement by the Dutch composer and percussionist Henk de Vlieger of Wagner’s only comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It is the only opera by Wagner centred round a specific time and place in history, rather than a mythical or legendary past. The story takes place in Nuremberg during the middle of the sixteenth century, and revolves around the real-life guild of the Master Singers, an association of amateur poets and musicians who developed a craftsman-like approach to music-making.

Wagner left the two early Entreactes tragiques unfinished, the first only partially orchestrated, and they are heard here in orchestrations completed by De Vlieger.

Completing the disc are the seldom performed and recorded Overture to Columbus, and Eine Faust-Ouvertüre by Wagner. Written in 1835, when Wagner was just twenty-two years old, the Weber-influenced Columbus Overture introduces the play by Theodor Apel. His Faust-Overture followed in 1840. Taking its inspiration from Goethe’s famous play, this work, together with Hector Berlioz’s Symp honief antastique, became the main example of nineteenth-century programme music.

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DSD recording
Reviews (1)

Review by Graham Williams - August 31, 2011

‘Meistersinger, an Orchestral Tribute’, is the fourth of the Dutch composer and prolific arranger Henk de Vlieger’s symphonic compilations of orchestral music from Wagner operas.
Those who have enjoyed one or more of the earlier issues,

Wagner: The Ring - An Orchestral Adventure - Järvi

Wagner: Parsifal, an Orchestral Quest - Järvi

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde, an Orchestral Passion - Järvi

will definitely wish to add this one to their collection, as arguably it is the most successful of the four, being more of an extended suite than an attempt to make a convincing symphonic structure from compositions in which voices and orchestra have a unique symbiosis.

Henk de Vlieger’s arrangement, dating from 2005, is in eleven sections that flow into each other without breaks. It includes all the orchestral excerpts that are often heard as separate items in the concert hall such as the Preludes to Acts 1 and 3, the Dance of the Apprentices and Entry of the Masters, and links these with suitably contrasting sections from elsewhere in the opera. The result is an enjoyable 48 minute traversal of ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ ‘ohne Stimme’.

The indefatigable Neeme Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra give a splendidly expansive performance aided by the sumptuous Chandos recording, and criticism of some of his over fast tempi on the earlier issues does not apply here. The use of the surround channels for the Act 3 Festwiese procession (Tr.7) is particularly effective.

A further compelling reason for acquisition of this SACD is Jarvi’s interesting choice of fill-ups that provide a fascinating glimpse of Wagner’s early development and writing for orchestra . Jarvi gives thrilling accounts of these Wagner rarities, lavishing as much care on them as he would on great masterpieces, and the RSNO respond with ripe full-bodied playing.

‘Eine Faust Ouverture WWV59’ is rarely encountered in the concert hall these days, yet it is a fascinating example of Wagner beginning to find his own unique voice. Its brooding opening brings to mind the start of the second act of ‘Lohengin’ written eight years later while the restless and stormy allegro suggests similar passages in ‘Der Fliegende Holländer’.

In 1831 the eighteen year-old Wagner composed some incidental music for the play ‘König Enzio’ by Ernst Raupach (1784-1852) that included two ‘Entreactes tragiques WWV25’. The composer left these incomplete, though in the case of the first D major piece 52 bars were fully scored. In 1996 de Vlieger completed these pieces using all the available existing material. The influence of Weber in the first and Beethoven in the second is clear yet these pieces do display all the fingerprints of the composer’s most mature work.

‘Columbus’ is the title of a play by Theodor Apel (1811-1867) for which Wagner composed some incidental music, and in 1907 the conductor Felix Mottl arranged the prelude to the play as a concert overture with the title ‘Christopher Columbus’. Jarvi and the RSNO play it for all it is worth, knocking five minutes off the score’s suggested timing of 13 minutes.Nevertheless, their uninhibited approach to what is a fairly undistinguished piece of music really works, and brings this disc to a barnstorming conclusion.

The Chandos 5.0 DSD recording is up to the excellent standard of the earlier issues and, like the performances, can be unequivocally recommended.

Copyright © 2011 Graham Williams and


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