How to Build a Classical CD Collection

37. Wagner: The Flying Dutchman, TannhSuser & Lohengrin (orchestral excerpts)

Richard Wagner, in the generation after Beethoven, was a composer who sought a new future for German music through the massive music-dramas that he devised, writing his own libretti and finally building in Bayreuth a theatre of his own for their production. The opera The Flying Dutchman, inspired by legends of the ghostly Dutchman, fated to sail the seas till redeemed by selfless love and by a particularly unpleasant sea-crossing from Riga to England, is represented by its famous Overture, which interweaves motifs from the opera, the wind, the sea and the horn-calls that herald the protagonist. Tannh?user, from which four excerpts are included, is set in medieval Germany, contrasted with the sensuous paganism of the Venusberg Music by which the hero is enticed, another world from the solemn pilgrim music. Lohengrin opens with a prelude that shows the appearance of the Holy Grail, central to Arthurian legend and goes on to the famous Wedding March that introduces the third act.

Recommended recording
Wagner: The Flying Dutchman, TannhSuser & Lohengrin (Orchestral Highlights), with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra under Michael Halász. Naxos 8.550136

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