CD & DVD

A great example of teamwork, reaches perfection on many levels

23.01.2017


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Das Rheingold
Marek Janowski conducts the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Pentatone 0827949040665

*****
 

A great example of teamwork, reaches perfection on many levels
 
 
This CD confirms, for me how unprejudiced listening to records can be a benefit and how teamwork lifts the performance up significantly. As our editor sent me the CD via the internet, I started listening to it not knowing who was performing. As the work progresses I sensed more and more a Germanic feeling and I was almost sure, for a while, that this was the so much marketed and well-received Hong Kong Philharmonic cycle, which I was a bit prejudiced against, and I was overwhelmed with the sheer sense of joy the singers brought to the first scene. I was also impressed with how German the sound was. As track followed track, I wondered the performers and there they were; the Germans. Of course, I was happy myself that what I mistook for Germans were actually the Germans but there is that Germanic spirit in Wagner that even the Met fails to reach (although they attain a different perfection on various grounds). So much for my surprise but the bottom line is that this is as German as it gets in spirit of the work and the Berliners have done a magnificent job. How? That is the next question and there is a single reply to it; teamwork. What is most notable in my favourite recordings of this work, usually from the mid-20the century, is the beauty and scope of the voices, not to mention specific names. Now, that works more for Die Walkure and perhaps Siegfried (when we are talking of the Ring) but for the outer segments, it is teamwork (and perhaps Hagen) that counts. Especially for Das Rheingold. The style of singing is almost like an oratorio, the voices are by no means spectacular, but all sufficient for Wagner, and when combined, they add up to more than the sum of the parts. This, almost chamber like approach, is what adds to the recording. There is a genuine sense of premeditated and discussed interpretation that hangs here, where every character knows what it will face and hear and the whole opera flows around theatrically, in perfect harmony. Whose idea it was, it manages to bring together perhaps the best modern recording of Rheingold  in our century. Much of the success should go to the conductor. Indeed, there is not a leitmotiv that Janowski fails to emphasise subtly, not a dramatic climax that fails to thrill, with even the metals clinging so musically and hair-rising that one desires to hear the rest of the operas immediately. He makes the Rheingold not only a prelude but almost a conclusion and the overall approach is much like the opera will proceed in flashback. There is a sense of irony too, with an abundance of gestures in the wind instruments. Drama is reflected with clarity, cleverness and ecstasy in this well conceived, theatrical construction. A very likeable recording that will take its place at a respectable spot in any discography. 

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