A REAL WAGNERIAN RUSH
Deutsche Grammophon to release Christian Thielemann’s Salzburg Parsifal on DVD and his Vienna Ring on CD, giving listeners a torrent of transcendent musical experiences.
When Christian Thielemann was appointed principal conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle, he also became the latest heir to a role once held by Richard Wagner, who affectionately called the orchestra his “magic harp”. Now, in the 200th-anniversary year of the composer’s birth, Deutsche Grammophon is releasing two recordings by Wagner authority Thielemann: the 2013 Salzburg Easter Festival Parsifal with the Dresden Staatskapelle on DVD and the complete 2011 Ring cycle with the Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera on CD. The audio release will be accompanied by two bonus DVDs of documentaries in which director Eric Schulz follows Thielemann during rehearsals and tells the story of this most monumental of all operatic achievements. Schulz’s films feature music examples from several legendary productions, including those of Harry Kupfer, Patrice Chéreau and La Fura dels Baus, as well as commentary from Wagner experts such as pianist Stefan Mikisch and journalist Elke Heidenreich. New light is shed on the complexities of the tetralogy’s plot, and we learn how even Hollywood borrows from Wagner.
It would be hard to find any other conductor who has devoted himself as intensively to Wagner’s work as has Christian Thielemann, who began studying the scores in his days as assistant to Herbert von Karajan. Since then he has become a regular conductor at the Bayreuth Festival, and has been working with the Dresden Staatskapelle on the creation of a fresh, contemporary Wagner sound. He strongly believes that the composer still exerts a powerful and relevant influence today.
“There is something so overwhelmingly physical about Wagner,” he explains. “At times his music seems so incredibly intimate that it seems to know more about me than I do myself. It gets to me so strongly that sometimes I’m afraid to let it all happen. Then it appears to me like a kind of spirit, communing with ancient forces, and compels me to submit to it completely.”