The Wagner Project
Wagner: Extracts from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Der fliegende Höllander, Tristan und Isolde, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Tannhäuser & Parsifal
Matthias Goerne (baritone); Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902250-51
This two CD set is one of the more bizarre to have come my way. The cover claims it contains ‘the finest scenes for baritone or bass’ from Wagner’s operas, yet many of the best are not present, and in the Good Friday Music from Parsifal, a great opportunity for a bass-baritone to shine, we hear just the orchestra. This is more a random collection of orchestral highlights and snatches of monologue – some of those quite strange: Wotan’s greeting to Valhalla at the close of Das Rheingold ends in the middle of nowhere.
What we do have is very finely performed, both by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and by Matthias Goerne – but why Hans Sachs’s first monologue and not his second? Surely Goerne would not sing extracts from roles which he couldn’t sing the whole of? His Wotan under Jaap van Zweden shows that he can perform the whole role ‘live’. And why do the English notes discuss the Siegfried Idyll when it’s not included? At least the texts of the excerpts are provided, but all told this is a shoddy album unworthy of Daniel Harding’s evident promise as a Wagnerian.
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