NEW! DEBUT RECORDING
A new discovery for Wagner fans: The highly dramatic journey takes you right through the "Ring of the Nibelung" in a shortened form spanning a good one and a half hours.
The LIVING CONCERT SERIES embodies, in a very special way, the basic concept behind ACOUSENCE's PHILOSOPHY-LABEL. These music recordings are planned to provide, aside from exceptional musical content and an audiophile sound quality, above all, emotionally intense performances. The spontaneity and naturalness of a live performance, combined with a highly refined recording technique, that is capable of transmitting the smallest of sound-nuances, so essential in portraying atmosphere and emotional content, provide a true "Concert" experience.
Recording producer, recording engineer: Ralf Kolbinger / Ralf Koschnicke
Mixing engineer, editor: Ralf Koschnicke
Producer: Ralf Koschnicke
Recording facilities: ACOUSENCE recording mobile / ACOUSENCE recordings
Recording location: Mercatorhalle Duisburg, 27./28.05.2009
LIVING CONCERT SERIES Vol. 13
24Bit Quad Sampling Ultra Definition Recording
c & p 2009 ACOUSENCE records
The Symphonic Ring - an orchestral drama in two parts
Compilation and arrangement of the score by Friedmann Dreßler
Single orchestral pieces from Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" are frequently to be heard in the concert hall. However, a detailed symphonic pathway through the whole work requires intensive preparation of the musical material. This is particularly the case when - as here - the aim is to keep to the original as closely as possible, nothing being added in the form of new composition.
Several stipulations must be considered: nothing may be changed concerning the chronological sequence of the pieces, however, the proportions must also be correct and the transitions must follow organically. The usable segments are therefore to be selected carefully, always regarding meaningful connections and the dramaturgy of the whole. Thus not all instrumental parts can be used. Ultimately further liberties arise from the use of segments with vocal participation which are reflected either in an instrumental line or are transferred onto an instrument.
In the version recorded here Friedmann Dreßler has altered Richard Wagner's "Stage Festival Play for Three Days and a Preliminary Evening" into an orchestral drama: As a complete symphonic work the scenes from "The Ring of the Nibelung" proceed virtually seamlessly through the plot in a good one and a half hours. A division into two large segments resulted, so that the selections from "Rhinegold" and "Valkyrie" were combined, as were those from "Siegfried" and "Twilight of the Gods".
Wagner`s "Ring of the Nibelung" in Extracts
Richard Wagner worked on his Stage Festival Play "The Ring of the Nibelung" for a long time. Starting from the first drafts of the scenario in 1848 up to the conclusion of the score in 1874 no less than 26 years passed. The creative process reveals unusual methods. When working on the libretto Wagner began with the finale and step by step turned to earlier scenes, when composing the music however, he now worked in the usual direction -from the beginning to the end. After the first performances of "Rhinegold" and "The Valkyrie" took place in 1869 and 1870 against the will of the composer on order of King Ludwig II, the first complete presentation of the Stage Festival Play "The Ring of the Nibelung" followed in August 1876.
Of course Richard Wagner preferred the complete performance of the "Ring of the Nibelung". Nevertheless, the composer knew that this effort would only be possible at few favoured places, and thus it may be surprising that exactly this ambitious and self-confident musician, who had encouraged a rejection of the division of operas into separate numbers, nevertheless allowed the performance of excerpts. The composer applied this practise from 1862 not least for advertising purposes. First impressions of Wagner's new sound world were therefore already to be had before the premieres of the four parts of the Stage Festival Play.
Whoever encounters the orchestral pieces from the "Ring"- tetralogy, experiences astonishingly varied impressions. Several times the composer commences with real states of nature, out of which he then develops the music, and later also the language! In addition, there are warlike elements like the "Ride of the Valkyries", majestic ones like the "Funeral Music at the Death of Siegfried" or Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene as well as wonderfully lyrical sections like the "Forest Murmurs" in the second "Siegfried" act. It is hereby quite astonishing how Wagner influenced the younger composers and presented works with model character.
The boldness of the composer Richard Wagner already shows itself in his harmonic restraint in the "Rhinegold" prelude. For 136 bars the music entwines itself around the E flat major triad. Such a phenomenon was inconceivable until then, and even if Wagner's music could originate completely without models, nevertheless, it became the prototype for all other compositions which were to give the impression of depth of water. The composer was not at a loss where the invention of original myths was concerned, and thus he wrote in his autobiographic recollections "My Life", how the thought for this prelude had come to him in Italy: "I sank into a kind of somnambulant state, in which I suddenly got the sensation, as if I were sinking into strongly flowing water. The rushing of the water soon presented itself to me in the musical sound of the E flat major chord which surged inexorably in a figurated refraction; these refractions appeared as melodic figurations of increasing movement, the pure triad of E flat major, however, never changed. It seemed to want to give, by virtue of its length, to the element into which I was sinking, an infinite meaning. With the sensation, that the waves were now racing high above me, I awoke with a start, from my half sleep. Straight away I recognized that the orchestral prelude to ‘Rhinegold' as I carried it around within me, and yet had not exactly been able to find‚ had appeared to me.
Wagner's orchestral treatment knows iridescent glistening as well as sweeping sound eruptions. The regions of nature and work often encounter each other in the "Ring of the Nibelung". When someone forges in "Rhinegold" or in "Siegfried", this happens simply by the use of the hammer so realistically as never before on the operatic stage. Nature can be harsh in the "Ring of the Nibelung", as in the stormy beginning of "The Valkyrie", but also lyrical and inviting as in the "Forest Murmurs" in the second "Siegfried" act. However, the "Ride of the Valkyries" is warlike and aggressive, and when from this time on warlike music was needed, often nothing more suitable could be found than Wagner's relentlessly forward surging music, especially for the medium of film. Wagner's music can be eerie and uncanny, but a listener may equally be attracted by the ingenious sound combinations in the "Twilight of the Gods", after Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene, when, to the sounds of the redemption motive, the old culpable world goes up in flames or sinks into the floods of the Rhine.
The Orchestra in the "Ring of the Nibelung"
Richard Wagner's Festival Stage Play "The Ring of the Nibelung" requires a gigantic orchestra. The following instrumentation was intended by the composer: three flutes and a piccolo, three oboes and a cor anglais, three clarinets and a bass clarinet, three bassoons, eight horns (whereby the players of the third and fourth horn pair also have to play two tenor tubas and two bass tubas), a contrabass tuba, three trumpets and a bass trumpet, three trombones and a contrabass trombone, timpani and other percussion instruments, six harps, sixteen first and sixteen second violins, twelve violas, twelve cellos and eight double basses; Further, amongst others, the usage on stage of eighteen anvils is planned. Already this listing allows one to deduce the emphasized role of the orchestra for Richard Wagner. A subordinated accompaniment by the orchestra would deeply contradict such a huge outlay.
Due to the expanse of the composition it can be of no surprise that in the "Ring of the Nibelung", numerous longer or shorter instrumental pieces appear. These are not only preludes and introductions, but also pieces in the midst of single acts. Here, in the treatment of the orchestra, but not only here, Richard Wagner's work with leitmotivs is apparent. Fundamentally this technique is not new. It was applied, but less distinctively, already in Wagner's romantic operas "The Flying Dutchman", "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin". It had even made a first appearance in Carl Maria von Weber's work. Even if Wagner himself spoke less of Leitmotivs than of Recollection Motives, this technique nevertheless achieved, in the "Ring of the Nibelung", its greatest development. It is a kind of musical prose, where the situation produces the form and creates a close net of relationships. In this manner Wagner's music often has a gestural character, and occasionally allows the listener to know more than the stage characters themselves. In total the Leitmotiv technique is so developed that Peter Tchaikowsky is not wrong in calling Richard Wagner primarily a symphonic composer: "What a Don Quixote is this Wagner! Why does he go to such trouble to reach the impossible, when his great talent would enable him to create infinite beauty, if he, in full devotion to his talent, were to follow its natural laws. In my opinion Wagner is, above all, a symphonic composer".