Siegfried Wagner: Symphony in C; Eclogue

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COMPOSERS: Siegfried Wagner
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Symphony in C; Eclogue
PERFORMER: Rheinland-Pfalz State PO/Werner Andreas Albert
CATALOGUE NO: 999 531-2
It’s hardly the fault of Siegfried Wagner that he is best known for being the illegitimate son of Richard Wagner and Cosima von Bülow (née Liszt) – his birth, in 1869, inspiring his father’s delightful Siegfried Idyll – rather than for his 18 operas and other compositions. In addition to running the Bayreuth Festival from 1906 until his death in 1930, he had a substantial conducting career, and it was probably the wish to have a big work of his own to include in his concerts that led him to compose a symphony in 1925. It’s a rather sprawling work, firmly rooted in the late-Romantic musical style which was then going right out of fashion: the sonorous orchestration calls to mind Bruckner, and the themes, while not particularly striking, are generally strong enough to drive the work forward. In 1927 Wagner decided to replace the existing second movement – actually the prelude to his opera Der Friedensengel, composed in 1913 but produced only in 1926 – with a new slow movement, and this is included on the present CD, along with a short orchestral transcription of one of his grandfather’s piano pieces. Performances and recording are worthy rather than brilliant. Stephen Maddock

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