WORKS: Wesendonck Lieder (orch. Henze); Siegfried Idyll; Träume, from Wesendonck Lieder (arr. for solo violin and orchestra); Overture and Dance Scene from Ariadne auf Naxos; Duett-Concertino
PERFORMER: Jard van Nes (mezzo-soprano), Robert Plane (clarinet), Stephen Reay (bassoon), Lesley Hatfield (violin), Christina Rhys (harp); Northern Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9354 DDD
This is a disc for anyone who prefers Wagner out of the opera house, and more intimate than grandiloquent. Hero and lover alike are seen at one remove, through the shimmering haze of Hans Werner Henze’s chamber-orchestra scoring of the Wesendonck Lieder. Woodwind and harp lift the wings of ‘The Angel’, and twine in delicate fronds over ‘The Greenhouse’, while the ardent and sturdily enunciated voice of Jard van Nes brings them firmly down to earth.
The last song, ‘Träume’, is also given here in the version for solo violin and chamber orchestra which Wagner made for Mathilde Wesendonck’s birthday. How easily it becomes an, albeit superior, salon piece without the words. Lesley Hatfield is the eloquent soloist, and her colleagues in the Northern Sinfonia offer a tender, finely grained Siegfried Idyll in between the voice’s and the violin’s songs.
Richard Hickox coaxes equally sophisticated playing from them in the Overture and Dance Scene from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Here, the first glimpse of Robert Plane’s slender, piping clarinet is seen rising from transparent orchestral textures. He is then joined by Stephen Reay for an irresistible performance of Strauss’s Duett-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon, teasing and graceful in its phrasing, taut of rhythm, and the recorded sound well-balanced and distributed. Hilary Finch