Götterdämmerung, the final instalment of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung, is a story of human passions. Two essentially benevolent creatures, involved with and possibly doomed by their traffic with the gods, find treachery and evil in the world of the humans, and are ruined by the dark side of humanity.
Richard Wagner called Die Walküre the “first evening” of the Ring of the Nibelung; he called Das Rheingold the prologue or Vorabend. Musically and dramatically, we are introduced to a radically new and different world when the opening bars of Die Walküre resound. A fully developed orchestral palette of Leitmotivs paints a wild storm scene, and the curtain rises on a modest dwelling: a fully human scene that has nothing to do with the gods, dwarves and nymphs of Das Rheingold. At the same time, however, the way Die Walküre portrays radical beginnings reveals some telling reminiscences of the unfolding of Das Rheingold. Die Walküre is exciting and deeply feeling drama.
In Siegfried, the “Second Day” or third evening of the Ring Cycle, we meet the pivotal hero of the epic tale. The energetic drive from Die Walküre is pursued here while Siegfried finally recaptures the mighty ring from Fafner the Dragon and awakens Brünnhilde from her penal sleep on the great rock.
If ever a performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto stressed the principle of dialogue between soloist and conductor, then this is it. True, the Philharmonia's string ensemble isn't as watertight under Fischer-Dieskau as it might have been under some other conductors; and poetry is invested at the premium of relatively low-level drama. Orchestral textures are absolutely right for Schumann – warm yet transparent, full-bodied yet never stodgy – and poetry is a major priority. Add Barenboim's compatible vision and keyboard finesse, and you indeed have a memorable reading.
Immensely gifted emerging artist" (New York Times) Daniel Lozakovich has been dreaming about recording the Beethoven Violin Concerto since he was eight. He first performed it on stage when he was thirteen, and at fifteen was invited by Valery Gergiev to perform the concerto with him in Moscow. A few short years later, he has reunited with his mentor Gergiev to record the Beethoven with the Mnchner Philharmoniker for Deutsche Grammophon.
Lovers of Il trovatore a work famous for its perennially popular cavatinas and cabalettas rightly expect the singers to be at the very top of their vocal game and particularly look forward to the top C at the end of Manrico s stretta, a true do di petto produced not from the head but from the chest. Yet the production of the work that was staged at the end of 2013 by the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin jointly run by Daniel Barenboim and Jürgen Flimm deliberately flouted these expectations and traded familiarity for astonishment. Such a reaction was due not only to the two most famous singers of our age, both of whom were appearing onstage for the first time in their respective roles, but also to the company s music director, who made it abundantly clear that he was concerned with more than just a feast for the ears and rousing rum-ti-tum rhythms.
Involving, as it does, three master musicians and a fine chamber orchestra this was never likely to be be other than rewarding. It may not correspond with the ways of playing Mozart at the beginning of the twenty-first century which are fashionable at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but it has virtues – such as high intelligence, sympathy, certainty of purpose, grace, alertness of interplay – which transcend questions of performance practice. Looking at the names of the pianists above, we might be surprised by the presence of Sir Georg Solti, so used are we to thinking of him as a conductor. But the young Solti appeared in public as a pianist from the age of twelve and went on to study piano in Budapest, with Dohnányi and Bartok.
Although the great historical opera in five acts by the composer Daniel Francois Esprit Auber was able to experience its 500th performance in 1880, the opera is almost forgotten today and is rarely performed. In April 2010 the work premiered in the original language at the Anhaltisches Theater Dessau under the direction of GMD Antony Hermus and is finally available on cpo.