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Naxos Featured CDs
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
Anna Samuil • Eri Nakamura, Sopranos
Michelle DeYoung • Deborah Humble, Mezzo-sopranos
Aurhelia Varak • Hermine Haselböck, Mezzo-sopranos
Kim Begley • Charles Reid • David Cangelosi, Tenors
Matthias Goerne • Peter Sidhom • Oleksandr Pushniak, Baritones
Kwangchul Youn • Stephen Milling, Basses
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden
Listen to CD 1 Track 4: Garstig glatter glitschriger Glimmer!
First performed as a cycle of four operas in 1876, Wagner’s visionary Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is one of the greatest works of art. Centred around a ring which offers its bearer ultimate power and the attempts of various people to acquire it, the Ring cycle explores the relationship between love and earthly power and the themes of yearning and loss, all within a setting of medieval legend. The Prologue Das Rheingold depicts the theft and subsequent surrender of the ring forged from the Rhinemaidens’ gold by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich.
Listen to TRACK 3: Scene 3: [Lento assai] – Andante con moto
The eloquent power of Jean Sibelius’s symphonies and other core orchestral works has overshadowed his prolific output in other genres, including significant scores for the theatre. The commission to compose music for the tragic pantomime Scaramouche caused Sibelius much stress and frustration, but on its première the composer was able to note “great success in Copenhagen” in his diary. With the exception of his one opera, Scaramouche is Sibelius’s only continuous dramatic score, the story of the sinister hunchbacked dwarf’s bewitching musicianship and evil intent taking us from innocent charm to a nightmarish conclusion.
Ernest John Moeran was born in London but grew up in Norfolk and had strong ties with Ireland. While still a student at the Royal College of Music he was inspired by a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Norfolk Rhapsody that seemed “to breathe the very spirit of the English countryside”, and was soon collecting folksongs for himself. Moeran’s transcriptions were taken from English and Irish traditional singers with both rural and seafaring backgrounds, rescuing music and words both entertainingly earthy and sublimely beautiful which would otherwise have died with the artists who performed them.
A student of Massenet and Fauré, winner of the Prix de Rome in 1900 and friend to Ravel and Satie, Florent Schmitt had a style that blended influences and inspiration from wherever the spirit took him. His incidental music for Antony and Cleopatra originally formed ballet scenes between the acts, evoking and enhancing Shakespeare’s saga of rivalry between the Roman Empire and Egypt, and the tragic consequences of star-crossed love. Schmitt’s The Haunted Palace follows the nuances of Mallarmé’s translation from Edgar Allan Poe in lush orchestration and a sound-scape of enigmatic symbolist imagery.
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