Wagner: Orchestral Music
The MET Orchestra, James Levine
Epic interpretations of orchestral music from Wagner’s music dramas, conducted by James Levine.
In 1991 and 1995, James Levine recorded two albums for Deutsche Grammophon which have become known as ‘bleeding chunks’, in Ernest Newman’s phrase, from Wagner’s operas. Collected together for the first time on this Eloquence reissue, they form a comprehensive survey of overtures, preludes and excerpts, featuring many of Wagner’s best-known melodies and most thrilling orchestral climaxes.
There are the noble trumpet tunes to open his early operatic successes, ‘Rienzi’ and ‘Tannhäuser’ and the turbulent sea-scape to open ‘Der fliegende Holländer’. Both the serene first-act and jubilant third-act Preludes to ‘Lohengrin’ are included as well as highlights from the ‘Ring’ and the preludes to the operas he composed while on a seven-year working holiday from the ‘Ring’, ‘Die Meistersinger’ and ‘Tristan und Isolde’. The anthology concludes with some of the most quietly ecstatic music Wagner ever wrote, for the baptism of Kundry on the Good Friday Meadow in the third act of ‘Parsifal’.
Levine became music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York aged just 27, having studied as a teenager with Walter Levin, Rudolf Serkin and at the Juilliard School. Under his leadership, the Met orchestra was trained and transformed into a superlative Wagner orchestra: full-bodied, silky and holding power in reserve for Levine to harness at the points of intense crisis and triumph without words in the music dramas. On this reissue, they are prefaced by the 1991 recording made by Levine in Berlin of Wagner’s birthday gift to his wife Cosima, the ‘Siegfried Idyll’ which he based on themes from the ‘Ring’.
- Eloquence 2CD Set