WORKS: Tristan und Isolde: an orchestral passion (arr. de Vlieger); Die Feen Overture; Das Liebesverbot Overture
PERFORMER: Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5087
Neeme Järvi conducts the third of Henk de Vlieger’s ingenious Wagner reductions, in many ways the least satisfactory. Tristan may be the most purely psychological of all Wagner’s works, but it’s still a dramatic entity, not a symphony manqué; it requires human performers, and the score is all the more complex, interwoven with the voices.
The sleevenotes do this no favours by suggesting otherwise. If the text and all its dramatic content are truly secondary, then why did Wagner compose them so integrally? And why half kill himself creating Bayreuth to stage them?
Considered as extended highlights, though, this is seriously good, not least for the RSNO’s suave playing, captured in silky SACD sound. After his vibrant Ring synthesis, Järvi’s Parsifal seemed disappointingly neutral, but though his reading here is broad and airy, the Prelude is languid and yearning enough.
The garden scene has a sensual glow, Mark’s intrusion sounds suitably baleful, and the sombre hues that follow phase easily into the opening of Act III – but without Tristan’s crucial ‘nightbound land’ speech, one’s left waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Liebestod feels similarly lost.
A good introduction to Tristan, then; but a bad substitute. The two early overtures provide boisterous contrast. Michael Scott Rohan