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SACD Review

Richard Wagner

Meistersinger: An Orchestral Tribute

  • Symphonic Compilation
  • Two Tragic Entr'actes
  • Overture "Faust"
  • Overture "Columbus"
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos SACD CHSA5092 Hybrid Multichannel 79:54
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All of the pieces here are Wagner's own music, but only the "Faust" Overture is original Wagner. The Meistersinger tribute and Entr'actes were both recently orchestrated and arranged by Henk de Vlieger, while Felix Mottl edited the "Columbus" Overture in 1907. This is one of four discs in a series devoted to bleeding chunks of Wagner operas, while a fifth disc holds the symphonic statements from the composer. For each, Chandos provides fine sound and detailed notes.

Neeme Järvi's recent habit is to blast through everything as quickly as possible. Since this is Wagner, and we fall only six seconds short of an eighty minute disc despite the speed, so I don't see a problem. This is light, crisp, and flowing. In short, this is Wagner for those who hate Wagner. Yes, the Scottish players could certainly dig harder into the music, and the conductor would ideally have found a touch more drama here and there. Still, the program as a whole lacks what most people dislike about Wagner. The swiftly propulsive nature of the approach works especially well in the "Orchestral Tribute", since those tend to drag and often outstay their welcome. As it stands, the whole piece is quite good, and gives us the best of the opera without the opera. Whether you enjoy that will be entirely dependant on how you feel about opera without words; I've always enjoyed it, myself.

The remaining pieces are rarities, especially the "Columbus" Overture and the Entr'actes. They are fine, but nothing can cover up that they are fillers. Neeme Järvi gives us these lesser works in fleet and uncomplicated renditions, while Chandos provides its usual fine sound. For fans of Wagner's music sans voice, the whole series is worth considering as a new way to see the operas.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman