Celebrating the conductor Marek Janowski’s triumphant Ring cycle at this year’s Bayreuth festival, PENTATONE rounds off his groundbreaking survey of Wagner’s operas with the release of a double album featuring orchestral highlights from the series. Recorded in PENTATONE’s state of the art multi-channel surround sound, the album contains the popular overtures and preludes from Der fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, as well as orchestral excerpts from Siegfried, Götterdämmerung and Parsifal. Also included is the previously unreleased Siegfried Idyll, the symphonic poem that Wagner wrote for the birthday of his wife Cosima.
Marek Janowski is one of today’s foremost interpreters of Wagner. His recordings of the ten mature operas for PENTATONE have been universally praised, the music critic Michael Tanner hailing Janowski as “…the most reliably impressive Wagner conductor of our time.” The BBC Music Magazine described the Tannhäuser release as “…the best recording since that made in Bayreuth in 1962.” And Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker, rated the Tristan und Isolde release among his all time favourite Wagner recordings, evidence as he put it that “…first-rate Wagner recordings are not extinct.”
Key to the success of this ambitious series has been the collaboration with the Rundfunk- Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Deutschlandradio Kultur. By producing concert performances of the operas in the superb acoustics of the Philharmonie Berlin (and without the distractions of staging), the nuances and subtleties in Wagner’s scores are clearly articulated to give a recording of exceptional fidelity and immediacy. “The recorded sound is sensational”, wrote Michael Tanner of the Parsifal release, “so realistic as to be almost alarming.”
The overtures, preludes and interludes in Wagner’s operas have always had broad appeal with audiences for their heady, intoxicating atmosphere and vivid orchestration. During Wagner’s lifetime, his contemporaries made arrangements and potpourris from the operas to satisfy an ever enthusiastic public, bowdlerising Wagner’s scores in the process. In these vibrant recordings, however, Janowski remains faithful to Wagner’s original vision and uses conclusions either written or authorized by Wagner himself.
This release is accompanied with notes on the music by the dramaturge and musicologist Steffen Georgi.