Ouvertüren · Overtures
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Rienzi · Das Liebesverbot
Lohengrin (1. + 3. Aufzug)
Tristan und Isolde: Vorspiel
Die Walküre: Walkürenritt
Ride of the Valkyries
The Cleveland Orchestra
Int. Release 25 Jun. 2010
1 CD / Download
CD DDD 0289 477 8773 0 GH
The Clevelanders, Welser-Möst, and Measha Brueggergosman – Wagner Rediscovered
. . . this disc of Wagner extracts is a reminder of what a powerful musician he subsequently became . . . magnificent, from the refined, very pervy performance of the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, to the gossipy counterpoint of the Meistersinger Overture, via an astonishingly sensual Prelude to Act One of Lohengrin. The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the greatest in the world -- the playing is perfection.
This is squeaky-clean Wagner, beautifully played. Lucid textures abound, Franz Welser-Möst keeping the music on the move with Classical propriety . . . the reading of the scores is expert and the preparation meticulous, the Cleveland Orchestra fully responsive to Welser-Möst's penchant for clarity, interplay and discrimination . . . The Overture to "Rienzi" benefits from Welser-Möst's approach -- no indulgence in the 'prayer' music and an avoidance of rowdiness elsewhere, brass and percussion integrated, inner detail therefore not compromised . . . overall, an expressive and joyous performance . . . an eloquence that is compelling, Welser-Möst charting climaxes unerringly, sucking the listener in to the line and expectancy of the music . . . Brueggergosman impresses with her operatic delivery, some exquisite nuances, and vivid delivery of the words. 'Im Treibhaus' is especially gripping . . . a recommendable release.
This CD is an excellent introduction to Wagner¿s music . . . all sung with shining passion by the Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman.
A live concert recording of bleeding chunks of Wagner, notable for the beautiful playing of the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted with crisp authority by Franz Welser-Möst. The overture to Rienzi is a particular delight. Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman gives a sensitively inflected performance of the Wesendonck Lieder.
As electrifying on disc as she was in person, Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman is the ideal medium, wielding a forceful, radiant voice equally capable of nuance and intimacy.
. . . the sound delivers the orchestra's sumptuous colours with all the resplendent richness that present-day techniques allow.
Measha Brueggergosman is a major talent, and her combination of beauty of tone, innate musicality, and full resonance with the text results in a memorable Wesendonck-Lieder . . . Brueggergosman captures the regretful mood of the Tristan study, "Im Triebhaus", to perfection. She emphasizes the crucial line "Unser Heimat ist nicht hier" (our home is not here) with just the right amount of underline; her true pianissimo toward the song's close is rapt and mesmeric. In "Schmerzen," Brueggergosman's voice unshackles itself and the full extent of her golden tone is audible.
. . . the disc offers a snapshot of some current trends in Wagner performance style, primarily a step back from the vaunting heroism of yesteryear. The strictly orchestral passages on this disc, all familiar preludes or interludes, emphasize tight rhythms and crisp articulation, both beautifully exemplified by the Cleveland musicians. Legato lines unfold with precision and subtlety in the "Rienzi" and "Tristan" instrumental selections. Under-the-hood details have unusual clarity and elegance in the prelude to "Die Meistersinger", and even the "Ride of the Valkyries" gets a boost from the conductor's preference for buoyancy over bombast. His work with Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman in the five-part "Wesendonck-Lieder" also shows how well his detailed approach can support and enhance a singer . . . [Brueggergosman] is a fascinating artist . . . Her husky timbre is malleable in lyrical passages, yielding some bright overtones, and its live vibrato can be exciting under pressure . . . She excels at the slower, gentle songs, "Im Treibhaus" and "Träume," thanks to her warm legato, the conductor's flexible beat and especially the carefully restrained orchestra volume in the extended low phrases where her open timbre and subtle coloring can be enjoyed . . . Brueggergosman is marvelously expressive in German . . . Her tireless inflections -- covering and coloring the tone, relaxing or tensing the line, emphasizing an accent or a syllable -- suggest a natural and forceful theatrical flair.
She excels at the slower, gentle songs, "Im Treibhaus" and "Träume," thanks to her warm legato . . . Brueggergosman is marvelously expressive in German and, to say the least, alert to mood. Her tireless inflections -- covering and coloring the tone, relaxing or tensing the line, emphasizing an accent or a syllable -- suggest a natural and forceful theatrical flair.
Brueggergosman effectively modulates the scale of her singing to the moment-to-moment emotional temperature of each song and manifests an acute sensitivity to [the texts] . . . Brueggergosman's voice has a rich, platinum-like character with a tight, rapid vibrato, and the lower part of her range is especially seductive.
Brueggergosman, die gefeierte kanadische Sopranistin mit dem wunderbar dunklen Timbre, entführt uns sofort in eine andere Sehnsuchtswelt. Als sei sie eines der vielen Instrumente -- so taucht die Stimme von Brueggergosman aus dem Orchesterklang auf. Sie legt sich zart auf das Wogenbett, das der Dirigent ihr bereitet. Die Sopranistin hält sich vom Klangvolumen her zurück, um nicht zu sehr hervorzustechen, und dennoch bleibt ihre Stimme makellos klar und verständlich. Mal schwebt sie nur so über dem Orchester, mal ergreift sie behutsam und mit ein wenig Nachdruck die melodische Führung. Brueggergosman hat mit ihrer sensiblen und feinfühligen Interpretation von Wagners Wesendonck-Liedern der CD den letzten Schliff gegeben. Dank ihres sehr individuellen Timbres und ihrer bis in alle Nuancen sehr ausdrucksstarken Stimme verdient diese Platte zu Recht den Stempel "empfehlenswert".
. . . ihr sensueller Gesang hat in Verbindung mit dem raffiniert-sensiblen Orchesterklang eine insgesamt beeindruckende Wirkung.
Der phänomenale Cleveland-Sound zeichnet sich durch vornehme, fast mochte man sagen: durch adelige Schlankheit aus . . .
“THE PERFORMANCE MADE ONE YEARN TO FLY”
Wagner in Cleveland – “it’s the sort of music you don’t often find on the menu of a straight¬forward symphony orchestra,” says Franz Welser-Möst. But when the Austrian maestro and his Cleveland Orchestra presented a programme made up almost entirely of excerpts from Wagner’s music dramas, the audience was ecstatic, and the drug-like impact that this music has on listeners also affected the performers: Measha Brueggergosman, who sang the Wesendonck Lieder as part of the programme, was no less enthusiastic, admitting that this was very much the sort of music that she would take with her to her proverbial desert island.
Rienzi was Wagner’s contribution to the genre of French grand opera and, as such, is a remarkable echo of the sort of bombastic spectacle associated with composers like Meyerbeer and Spontini, and yet the soaring melodic lines interspersed by solemnly grandiloquent march rhythms already look forward to Wagner’s later melodic writing, notably to the Love Duet for Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the Prologue to Götterdämmerung. In Rienzi, however, this is limited to the formal framework of the prelude to a large-scale theatrical spectacle very much in the tradition of the Paris Opéra.
Wagner turned his back on this tradition with Lohengrin. The magical sounds that launch the prelude to Act One immediately transport the listener from the reality of a gold-and-plush auditorium to a world of fairytale enchantment. Music like this had never been heard before. Chords of A major rise up in the violins, creating a sound world of transcendent purity, and only gradually are the traditional categories of rhythm and melody introduced. This uniquely miraculous prelude, which is based on a single arch-like structure rising to its climax two thirds of the way through, seems to be in stark contrast to the relatively conventional prelude to Act Three, a tempestuous and jubilant epithalamium that is none the less innovatory in its way. While not entirely untypical of Meyerbeer, the result is more progressive than anything that Meyerbeer ever wrote and invested with immense compositional verve. “Children, do something new,” Wagner encouraged his followers, and there is no doubt that time and again he remained true to this motto of his.
Stylistically speaking, the magical sounds of the Lohengrin prelude inevitably lead us to the world of Tristan und Isolde, a world of sound that represents a radical rethinking of all previous musical values. The work sprang from the powerful erotic impulse of Wagner’s illicit liaison with Mathilde Wesendonck. It is adumbrated, in part, by the songs that Wagner wrote to Mathilde’s words and that already contain the searingly unsettling chord progressions and encircling motifs expressive of longing that underpin the whole music drama from the yearningly questioning prelude to Act One to the sense of fulfilment that comes with the final transfiguration popularly, if inauthentically, known as the “Liebestod”, or “Love-Death”.
The stages in the development of a lover’s desperate longing are already prefigured in these songs, with their sense of unrequited yearning and their desire for death. They also contain an embryonic version of the music that was to unfold in Tristan und Isolde. In this case theatrical grandeur stems from the greatest intimacy. According to Measha Brueggergosman, “the most beauteous asset” of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder is “their perfectly luxurious simplicity.” With this, the soprano goes straight to the heart of Wagner’s music, in which the densest compositional artistry finds expression in apparent simplicity, allowing it to speak to the listener directly.
It is no doubt this that explains why an exceptionally complex work like Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg should seem so folk-like, for all that the opera was written immediately after Tristan und Isolde. It received its first performance in Munich, a song of songs to “German art” that brought its composer the most widespread recognition. Even the prelude to Act One contains within it an ingenious summary of all the stylistic and technical skills of which the composer was capable. Not only do we hear the march music of the Nuremberg guilds to which Hans Sachs and the other mastersingers belong, there is also the erotic charge of the modern-sounding love music that is associated with the lovers Eva and Walther. How the set pieces that tradi¬tionally made up the overture of a French grand opera have been transformed since the time of Rienzi! At the end Wagner superimposes the contrasting themes in an impressive display of his contrapuntal mastery, blending the greatest technical skill with an expressivity that is always in the service of the drama.
The composer also demands this same degree of artistry from his performers. According to Measha Brueggergosman, Franz Welser-Möst “has one of the humblest approaches to music to which I’ve ever had the gift of bearing witness”. Conductor and orchestra place their tremendous virtuosity and skill in the service of the work. They are, in short, “one classy outfit.” “Needless to say,” adds the conductor, “the musicians rarely play opera, and so I explained to them in detail who the Valkyries are and what Wotan’s Wild Hunt is all about.” In this way The Ride of the Val¬¬kyries brings the Cleveland Orchestra’s Wagner concert to an electrifying conclusion, proving to be less of a brilliant orchestral study than a musical narrative of fairytale pic¬turesqueness. The result is a theatrical feast for the ears and one which, as the music critic of The Plain Dealer noted in his review, “even hardened anti-Wagnerians could not have resisted . . . The performance . . . made one yearn to fly.”