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Wagner: Two Symphonies (Orchestral Works Vol 5) (Chandos: CHSA 5097) Hybrid SACD, SACD

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Neeme Järvi
  • Composer: Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (27 Feb. 2012)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B0072A4ETO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,609 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Orchestral Works, Vol. 5
  2. Symphony in C
  3. Symphony in E
  4. Huldigungsmarsch
  5. Kaisermarsch
  6. Overture to Rienzi
  7. Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin

Product description

Product Description

Our series of works by Richard Wagner, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Neeme Järvi, continues with a disc of early symphonies, later marches, an overture, and a prelude. Early on in his career, Wagner composed two symphonies, both of which are included on this disc. The Symphony in C, which he wrote when he was just nineteen years old, is heavily influenced by Beethoven in its character, mood, and instrumentation. Written two years later, in 1834, the Symphony in E was left unfinished, Wagner completing only the first movement and thirty bars of the second. The completed version recorded here was prepared by the conductor Felix Mottl more than fifty years later at the request of Wagners widow, Cosima. The two marches on this disc are the composers most obvious contributions to the genre of pomp and circumstance. The Huldigungsmarsch was written in 1864 for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The march-like rhythms and brassy colours complement sections in which the strings provide a continuously flowing movement, all leading to a jubilant conclusion. The Kaisermarsch (1871) was a commission from the publishing firm Peters, who requested from Wagner a heroic morale booster at a time when the German countries were at war with France. Having initially composed it for military band, Wagner soon rewrote it for symphony orchestra, the version recorded on this disc. The Overture to Rienzi, Wagners third completed opera (1838 40), incorporates the melody of Rienzis prayer at the start of Act V, which became the operas best-known aria, and ends with a dazzling military march. The Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin (1845 47) has the energy, fervour, and brassy sounds of the Overture to Der fliegende Holländer, and displays Wagners lasting fascination with creating drama by symphonic means.


This is stirring stuff and a reminder that Wagner had a life before becoming engrossed in opera. The C major symphony, strongly played by the RSNO, is unrecogonisable from mature Wagner, couched as it is in a style drawn from Beethoven and Weber. The unfinished E major symphony does betray portents of operatic drama, and the two later marches are firmly in Wagnerian mode. **** --Telegraph,04/03/12

A superbly played and recorded SACD Performance ***** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine,May'12

Jarvi digs deep and early into the Wagner catalogue --Gramophone,June'12

Pleasurable and thought-provoking listening is guaranteed. --IRR, May'12

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
To me this well-timed release came as something of a surprise, i.e. after many years of having listened to Wagner to still be able to purchase a disc with 4 out of 5 pieces new to my collection. It is well-timed because 2013 is his big anniversary year and there are surprisingly few high quality discs available that feature this kind of non-operatic repertory. Well, non-operatic apart from the one piece most Wagner collectors will be familiar with: the overture to Rienzi, the opera which in spite of what you may read about it sounds genuinely Wagnerian, if a bit over the top at times but with plenty of youthful enthusiasm. Not so the beautiful, well-balanced and big-tuned overture however, which here is given a non-slick rustic reading that emanates a kind of early romantic "period feel".
Wagner wrote his only two symphonies around the age of 30, the first a pretty forthright work, well worth a listen and unashamedly romantic because firmly in the Schubert/Beethoven mould, however without their psychological intensity. The second was neither completed nor fully orchestrated by Wagner but it has some interesting ideas and "sense of wonder" moments that conceivably point forward to similar Nature-inspired episodes like in Die Walküre. Both these works are so well-crafted they show Wagner must have had a bit more formal education than he was allowing to be known.
Which leaves the two bread-and-butter works for festive occasions - the first, a coronation march for "mad" king Ludwig II, indeed sounds festive enough but has slight musical substance; the second is a delight all the way. Its pomp and circumstance is broken up by much more subtle music and the nine minutes it lasts contain a surprising variety in moods. And this isn't even the version that ends with a choral piece.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The year of the bicentenary of Wagner's birth made available some of the other works in his oevre other than the music dramas he is rightly celebrated for. This included works for piano (see Wagner: Complete Piano Music) as well as his two symphonies which are here.

The piano works come from all periods of his life, some of which to my mind deserve to be in the standard repertoire even if there are some minor pieces there also. The symphonies are early works in Wagner's career. The Symphony in C is one which Wagner returned to, and sometimes performed in later life. The second, the Symphony in D is one he only left sketches for, and was completed after his death, at request of his widow, Cosima, by the conductor, Felix Mottl. Neither work has been championed, to my knowledge, by a major Wagner conductor and there are few recordings of it.

Yet there is perhaps some curiosity value in this. The Wagner on show in the Symphony in C has yet to find fully the musical voice he is famed for, yet the ability of a nineteen year old to write a full symphony is itself a feat. The music itself has a more classical feel, reminiscent of Wagner's hero Beethoven (whose Third and Seventh Symphonies he claimed as an influence) or even Schubert. It also gives the sense of the composer moving towards the Romanticism, of which he was possibly the greatest exponent in music. With its springy rhythms, this is a work that I suspect would have suited a great Wagner conductor like Toscanini.

Such a recording will now never happen. However, in this one, at last, in Neeme Jarvi, we have a great conductor showing us what can be done with the work.
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Format: MP3 Download
I hadn't heard the Symphony in C for about 50 years and had never heard of the other one. Very well worth having for a Wagner addict even though it's not exactly the greatest music he ever wrote. I've thoroughly enjoyed playing the recording and getting to know the music properly. I can't fault the performances.
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