This concert from Dresden in 2013 was intended to celebrate not only the bicentenary of Wagner's birth, but also the direct or indirect connection of the chosen program with Dresden. Wagner was one of the court conductors from 1848 -1849 and during this period the featured works were performed, composed or inspired. Also being celebrated is the work of Hans Werner Hesse who was due to hold the prestigious post of 'Capell-Compositeur' in Dresden from 2012-13, but whose death in 2012 prevented this.
The soloist for the evening was the renowned Jonas Kaufmann whose renderings of Rienzi's Prayer, Lohengrin's Grail Narration and Tannhauser's Rome Narration were undoubted highlights of the evening and also of the disc. His mellifluous tones are ideally suited to the repertoire and his voice rose effortlessly to the occasion much to the evident delight of the packed and attentive audience.
The orchestral pieces, the overtures and the Lohengrin prelude, are delivered to a high standard with attention given to phrasing and dynamics and justifying Thielemann's reputation as a Wagnerian conductor of distinction and also that or the orchestra's high standing as a leading German ensemble. The overall style emphasises the blending of woodwind and brass textures and refulgent string tone as opposed to the more defined tonal characteristics of individual instrumental sections favoured by the British orchestras for example and that is perfectly justified given the repertoire.
The Fraternite piece for orchestra by Henze is intended to address 'the 21st century with the demand that we should live together in peace and harmony' to quote the appropriate sleeve notes. These suggest that we should regard that as 'his legacy' and it will be up to individual listeners to decide if this aim has, in fact, been achieved. it is a laudable aim and certainly as good a case for it is made in Dresden and on this occasion.
Interestingly, Wagner's Faust overture (revised 1855 version) makes a second appearance in two recordings from Dresden with Thielemann. The first from 2011 is just 20 seconds faster, a difference that can only be detected by the clock. In both cases the work receives an excellent rendition, and seems to be a favourite with the conductor. One other editorial point is that the performance of the Grail Narration from Lohengrin is the original longer version, not the one later shortened for Weimar.
Throughout the recording and imaging is exemplary. The camera work is detailed but discrete while the actual imaging is full ranged and of good colour. The sound is presented in demonstration quality DTS 5.1 as well as stereo. There are no extras, but the concert should be sufficient reward for potential purchasers.
This is another quality product from both C major and Dresden.
Wagner was born 22nd May 1813, Leipzig, so this concert celebrated the composer's 200 th birthday, recorded live at the Semperoper, Dresden, 21 May 2013. For it was in Dresden that he made his major operatic break through. More of that later after I have completed this review, then I will write the history behind these works on the bluray.
Christian Thielemann is the principal conductor of the Staatskapelle,Dresden. He is probably the greatest living Wagner conductor along with Barenboim . One only has to hear Thielemann's conducting of Wagner's Parsival with the Staatskapelle,Dresden, to know this is not spin. This bluray shows that in this opera he has reached the heights of Knappertsbusch in his 1962 live recording,at the Bayreuth festival.That is no mean feat. He is a big,tall conductor, who is a highly charismatic, engaging man, who is charming. You may have gathered I am a Thielemann fan.
Thielemann's tempo's for the Flying Dutchman overture create the feeling that you are at sea,whipped by the spray. His tempi are often fast for each of the overtures ; Faust overture, Rienzi,Tannhauser and brings the spirituality of the Lohengrin Prelude Act I to the fore. Yet with an instrument like the legendary sound of the Dresden orchestra, it coincides with Thielemann's views on the sound of an orchestra. "The Staatskapelle Dresden has developed its distinctive sonority in the course of a tradition stretching back over four and a half centuries. The strings form an altogether homogeneous group in every one of their registers, producing a velvety and fully rounded tone even when playing extremely quietly, while the horns have a golden sheen to them and the woodwinds blend together wonderfully well,evincing an aura all of their own."(Julia Spinola).This orchestra has Wagner in their bones.
Kaufmann sings Allmacht ger Vater from Rienzi. In fernem Land -original version Lohengrin. Inbrunst im Herzen -Rome Narration Tannhauser.. He is the greatest tenor of his generation, some fans think he is up there with the greats. So these arias are probably the reason why some of you might buy this Bluray. However,there has been a debate of late about his voice changing, a few think for the worse. I do not think that. But it has changed in a very positive way. He has not ruined his voice by singing roles that are beyond him. His has been a gradual process. He has moulded his voice so that it is like bronze flickering with sunlight. He has incorporated his lyrical voice into his baritonal one. What a Tristan,or Siegfried he will make, the like of what we have not seen in our life time.
Hans Werner Henze was the Capell-Compositeur for the season, a title the Staatskapelle confers on living composers for each season,commissioning new works,a practice that recalls the orchestras history,where conductors and church composers wrote music.Henze was given the title,and during the 2012-2013 season planned to write a piece called Isoldes Tod for the Wagner Bicentenary,but his death in Dresden but an end to that. So a work of Henze's composed in 1999 was played, Fraternite. A very good idea to encourage new modern classical music,how can we progress without it. We cannot depend on Philip Glass to keep churning out new pieces and operas.
1080i 16.9. PCM Stereo. DTS-HD MA 5.1. Subtitles English, French,Spanish,Korean,Chinese. REGION CODE A.B.C. Sound and Picture good. When play comes on, use the remote, then press the button pop up/menu. Audio,language,chapters and Menu will come on. When finished press pop up again. Some people have had trouble with this.
Wagner was one of Dresden's Saxon courts conductors from 1843-1849. The premiere of Rienzi was conducted by Wagner in Gottfried Semper's new opera house on the 20th October 1842. This was to be Wagner's greatest truimph in his entire career. Because it was so long he had to cut it in 1843. The original manuscript was given to Hitler and was lost. However, the new Dresden edition uses much of the 1843 edition, that is, as much as can be pieced together from various fragments.The premiere of the Flying Dutchman was held on the 2nd January 1843, Dresden. The Premiere of Tannhauser, 19th October 1845,Dresden. Now there is a problem here;the Dresden score is not often used, the Paris one of 1861 had many changes made to it, but only had four performances. The version we call the Paris Tannhauser,is not really, but is the Vienna 1875 version that we call the Paris Tannhauser. Complicated I know, but true. Wagner kept tinkering with this opera right up to the end of his life. Sounds like Bruckner and his many versions of his symphonies.
Lohengrin was written between the Summer of 1845 and April 1848 and was intended originally for Dresden. Wagner did conduct a concert performance of the final of Act 1 of the Royal Saxon Court theater on the 22nd September 1848. The scenery was duly commissioned and a full scale production was announced to the press in January 1849. Wagner's involvement in the ill-fated Dresden revolution of May 1849 prevented the premiere of Lohengrin from happening. The composer went into exile in Switzerland. The premiere was held in Weimar conducted by Lizst. It was in Dresden that Wagner first heard his Faust overture,conceived as an opening movement to a symphony which he never completed. Wagner rewrote the piece in Zurich,and this later version was published in 1855. However,Wagner had discussed the idea of a Faust symphony with Lizst, and using Wagner's ideas Lizst created his Faust symphony, premiered in Weimar. History is very important in understanding these beautiful works of art, as they come from a particular era, often foreign to our own. We must judge history not by our own values,but by the values of the time.
References.Holden,A.(Ed). The penguin opera Guide.1995. Viking. Landmann,O. Wagner in Dresden 2013.CMajor. Spinola,J.To generate so much music from a work's structure.2013.