Wagner highlights lack gravitas

Plenty to enjoy, but Neeme Järvi and the excellent Royal Scottish National Orchestra's performance is a little lightweight.

Composer: Wagner
Repertoire:  Transcriptions, Vol.4, including: Die Meistersinger – an orchestral tribute; Faust Overture; Christopher Columbus Overture
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Neeme Järvi
Rating:  3/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Chandos CHSA 5092

The Music: Some music lovers have thought it a 
pity that Wagner, with his amazing skill at orchestration, should have concentrated his talents on opera rather than on symphonic music. In 2005 the Dutch percussionist and composer Henk de Vlieger remedied this lack by creating a 50-minute ‘orchestral tribute’ to Die Meistersinger, presented here with some early overtures by Wagner.

The Performance: According to the booklet notes, De Vlieger’s intention was not to create a potpourri of highlights from Wagner’s opera, but to fashion a ‘through-composed symphony with a cohesive structure.’ In this he failed, and a fair amount of the piece makes little musical sense without a knowledge of the story. The sequential arrival of the apprentices in Act 3 sounds here like a series of disconnected and scrappy jigs, for example. But taken as a rather jolly medley, there’s plenty to enjoy.

The Verdict: Conductor Neeme Järvi pushes the excellent Royal Scottish National Orchestra through the score at a fair lick, and brings a bouncy, Tiggerish feel to proceedings. That’s great for the overture, less great for the weightier passages, and overall a sense of gravitas is missing.

Want More? Henkde Vlieger’s similar arrangement of Wagner’s Ring cycle is
 also available from Järvi and the RSNO
 (on Chandos, CHSA 5060).