Jun Märkl conducts Wagner’s Concert Overtures Nos 1 & 2 and other works for orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Wagner
WORKS: Concert Overtures Nos 1 & 2; Overtures to Das Liebesverbot, Christopher Columbus, Die Feen, König Enzio; Siegfried Idyll
PERFORMER: MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jun Märkl
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573414

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Wagner’s earliest works, once derided – not least by himself – have recently attracted more serious attention. Certainly they reveal an unusually promising composer, already above the ordinary for his day and with occasional startling flashes of the genius to come. Jun Märkl and the excellent MDR Leipzig Radio players, rather brightly recorded, provide a lively selection.

The Weberish, fantastical Die Feen, the Italianate Das Liebesverbot, and the wave-filled theatrical overture Columbus are already quite well known and recorded, not least in Neeme Järvi’s superb Chandos collections. The two earlier concert overtures, though, are rarer, the second in particular worth hearing for its robust Classical style, very much in the mould of Wagner’s idol Beethoven. The König Enzio overture, for Raupach’s sombre rescue drama (in which Wagner’s sister Rosalie starred), is also drenched in Beethoven’s tragic gloom, especially Egmont and Fidelio; its only current rival appears on an earlier Naxos collection, rather less effective. Least satisfactory is the Siegfried Idyll in its unoriginal orchestral form, stylistically a lifetime away from the rest; the Faust overture would surely have been better.

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Michael Scott Rohan