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Cat. No. CHAN 3054(3) Price: £27 No. of discs: 3
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CHAN 3054 - Wagner: The Rhinegold
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Available From: 17 April 2001
Wagner began composing The Rhinegold in the autumn of 1853. The first draft was completed in under eleven weeks and Wagner’s fair copy of the full score was ready in September 1854, when he was already half-way through the first draft of The Valkyrie.

Unlike subsequent Ring operas, each of which is in three acts, The Rhinegold runs for an uninterrupted span of some two-and-three-quarter hours. The four scenes are separated by substantial orchestral interludes which brilliantly exemplify Wagner’s view of composition as ‘the art of transition’.

As one would expect in a work intended as the background to the ensuing drama, many (but by no means all) of the Ring leitmotifs are present in The Rhinegold. One of the most significant, which is in two segments, comes when the Rhinemaidens salute the gold: both the fanfare ‘Heiajaheia!’ and the two-note figure ‘Rhinegold! Rhinegold!’, modified melodically and harmonically, take on new subtleties of meaning as the epic progresses.

The Rhinegold is the locus classicus of Wagnerian idealism. There are no ensembles, and the word setting is pretty much one note to a syllable, with no lyrical or rhetorical effusions. The nearest that Wagner comes to an aria is Loge’s great narration in Scene 2, which could be, and has been, performed as a concert piece.

The Rhinegold was first performed in Munich in September 1869. Its first performance as part of the complete Ring cycle was at the Bayreuth Festival in August 1876.
Reviews

‘It is a recorded document of great importance.’
Fanfare

‘The Ring cycle that Reginald Goodall conducted from 1969 onwards… remains one of the company’s greatest achievements… This first instalment sounds better than ever. Every word is crystal clear, and the cast is uniformly excellent…’
The Guardian on CHAN 3038(4) (The Valkyrie)

‘This very fine Wagner recording returns to the catalogue – a highly persuasive account in its considered approach. The singing, in an effective English translation is excellent.’
Gramophone on CHAN 3038(4) (The Valkyrie)

 

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