Wagner: Polonia Overture; American Centennial March; Rule Britannia Overture; Kaisermarsch

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Polonia Overture; American Centennial March; Rule Britannia Overture; Kaisermarsch
PERFORMER: Hong Kong PO/Varujan Kojian
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555386 Reissue (1983)
Wagner’s early ‘national’ overtures are swaggering fustian, of course, but fun and full of rude, healthy, rather awful life. Meyerbeer would have been proud of them, and rightly. The neglect of the late marches – Wagner’s maturest orchestral music, after all – is less explicable. Occasional pieces certainly, but every bar of the splendid Kaisermarsch bears the impress of the hand that wrote Die Meistersinger, while the preposterous American Centennial March reeks of Götterdämmerung and Parsifal. The recording sounds shinier than on the original issue: it sometimes gives the strings a hard edge and hints (only hints) at distortion at maximum decibels. As for the performances, subtlety isn’t required here, so you don’t get it. Bags of gusto, though. Calum MacDonald

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