Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wagner overtures: Tannhäuser, Der Fliegende Holländer, Die Feen

This is my Tuesday Blog post from April 15, 2014.

Vinyl's Revenge returns this month with a nearly 35 year old release by the Philips label, which will act as a segue to this week's Friday Blog and Podcast featuring Richard Wagner operatic selections (read our below "teaser" for links).

My vinyl collection has three Wagner LPs, all of "orchestral favourites": the unavoidable "Highlights from the Ring" (George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, CBS "Great Performances" re-issue), an analogue disc of Wagner overtures (Silvio Varviso and Staatskapelle Dresde, Philips FESTIVO re-issue) and today's album, an early Digital recording from the Concertgebouw led by Netherlands native conductor Edo De Waart.

De Waart studied oboe, piano and conducting at the Sweelinck Conservatory, graduating in 1962. In 1964, at the age of 23, de Waart won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York. As part of his prize, he served for one year as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic. On his return to the Netherlands, he was appointed assistant conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink.

My first recolllections of maestro De Waart were his leading the San Francisco Symphony in the inaudural concert of the Davies concert Hall in 1980 or 81. He has since been associated with the Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. 

As for the disc itself, it stays well-within the arcs of your typical Wagner Overtures disc, with the Tannhäuser overture (with the Venusberg extension), Flying Dutchman and the less-frequently heard overture to Wagner's first mature opera, Die Feen. As for many recordings of this era, this first-generation digital recoirding feels cold and rough around the edges, but the reading of the score is clear and the great Concertgebouw orchestra delivers art all the right places.

Happy Listening!

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser, WWV 70: Overture and Venusberg Music
Die Feen, WWV 32: Overture
Der Fliegende Holländer, WWV 63: Overture

Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
Edo De Waart, conducting

Philips 9500 746 (stereo, digital DDA, 1981)

Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/02DieFeenOverture