Wagner/Henk de Vlieger
The Ring, an orchestral adventure
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Recorded 5-7 August 2007 in Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell
Reviewed: June 2008
CD No: CHANDOS CHSA 5060
Duration: 76 minutes
The forest scene from “Siegfried” Act Two, incorporating the death throes of Fafner the dragon is well represented. Indeed this was the passage where one wished those beautiful lines sung by the bass had been re-ascribed within the orchestra. Siegfried’s approach to Brünnhilde’s rock and her subsequent awakening is deftly covered. From “Götterdämmerung” are – of course – ‘Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’, ‘Siegfried’s Funeral March’ and ‘Brünnhilde’s Immolation’ form the bulk of the ‘finale’.
Therein lies the problem with this sort of arrangement. Even keen Wagnerians may find this collection of highlights rather too fatty a meal to take in its one-hour sitting and long for something a little palette-cleansing in between. I wanted some voices to add variety – not least as they are integral to scenes like the ‘Immolation’ and ‘Magic Fire’.
In terms of performance, Neeme Järvi’s tempos are generally on the fleet side and his players provide some vivid and exciting playing – though I felt some moments such as the descent to Nibelheim, the ascent to Valhalla and ‘Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’ were heading from the heroic and closer to the bombastic at times. That may be partly the acoustic, which is spacious and clear, resulting in sound very bright and immediate; a shame that the anvils tinkle lightly and the ‘Funeral March’ needed more subtlety.
Generally, Järvi seems happiest in the Siegfried passages, which have a naturalness and mystique that is very appealing. This is also evident in the lovely performance of Siegfried Idyll that is attractive and satisfying. No complaints about the polished playing of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, its members entering into the spirit of the music with aplomb.