Wagner: Rienzi Overture; König Enzio Overture; Das Liebesverbot Overture; Die Feen Overture; Columbus Overture; Faust Overture

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Rienzi Overture; König Enzio Overture; Das Liebesverbot Overture; Die Feen Overture; Columbus Overture; Faust Overture
PERFORMER: Malaga PO/Alexander Rahbari
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557055
Any disc devoted to early Wagner overtures succeeds both as a concept and as a programme, since the nature of the music varies widely, encompassing madcap hilarity (Das Liebesverbot), dark drama (Faust Overture), grand swagger (Rienzi) and Romantic earnestness (Die Feen, incorporating a theme later refined in Tannhäuser). The two lesser-known works here are the overtures from incidental music Wagner provided for plays entitled King Enzio (premiered before Wagner turned 19) and Columbus. The latter is notable for its striking harmonic progressions, trumpet calls and swelling waves of string figuration, all of which create an idealised portrayal of the famous explorer and his exploits. The performances here convey the sense of the music without causing excessive enjoyment for their own sake. The orchestra cannot be mistaken for a world-class ensemble, Alexander Rahbari’s conceptions are musical but not particularly distinctive and the recorded sound is commonplace. The crackling excitement of the Rienzi Overture is better realised by others (the Mariss Jansons-led version on EMI is one of my favourites), and the Faust Overture has had more dramatic readings, but Das Liebesverbot sparkles nicely and on the whole this disc is adequate for those interested in the repertoire. David Breckbill

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