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Cat. No. CHAN 9870 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9870 - Wagner: Overtures and Preludes
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Available From: 17 August 2000
It is an abiding irony that if Wagner’s purely orchestral works had been all that survived him, only one, the late ‘Siegfried Idyll’ (1870), would have rescued him from utter oblivion. Ironic because he was one of the greatest and boldest masters of the orchestra who ever lived, and almost certainly the most influential. And that, too, has its irony, for it was only near the end of his life that his music gained sufficient exposure to exert any significant influence at all. The full story of his orchestral mastery is inseparable from his epoch-making operas and ‘music-dramas’, yet the great majority of music lovers know his operatic overtures and preludes far better than the works which they were designed to introduce. And one last irony: for all his boldness and originality, the basic constitution of the orchestra as he left it was little different, if different at all, from that which he found in his youth. Its main body is still the string band (though he expanded it dramatically in both size and capability), complemented by wind, brass and percussion.

What Wagner did do, though it was not as simple as it sounds, was to increase the sheer bulk of the orchestra and to divide and further subdivide its various families. Although he did in fact attempt to introduce a new instrument into the orchestral brass – the so-called ‘Wagner tuba’ – this never became part of the standard instrumental family.

As demonstrated in his early works, his orchestral mastery was evident from the beginning. In his swelling and redisposition of the instrumental ranks he achieved an orchestral palette whose richness of sonority prevails at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, from the softest to the loudest and whose fundamental individuality gives it a harmonic resonance unique to his music.

‘…an excellent addition to the catalogue, and very highly recommended.’
‘Opera’ on CHAN 9611(2) (Strauss)

‘The Danish Radio Orchestra play with conviction and sympathy. They are given excellent recorded sound.’
‘The Penguin Complete Guide’ on CHAN 9064 (Langgaard)

‘I have rarely heard the Danish Radio Orchestra and Chorus perform at such a level of passion, precision and conviction.’
‘Fanfare’ on CHAN 9143-5 (Heise)


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