Wagner/Stokowski Symphonic Syntheses

0 of 5 stars

Das Rheingold – Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla [ed. Stokowski]
Die Walküre – Magic Fire Music [arr. Stokowski] & Ride of the Valkyries [ed. Stokowski]
Parsifal – Symphonic Synthesis from Act III [arr. Stokowski]
Tristan und Isolde – Symphonic Synthesis [Prelude to Act I-Liebesnacht-Liebestod: arr. Stokowski]

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
José Serebrier

Recorded on 10 & 11 June 2006 in the Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: September 2007
CD No: NAXOS 8.570293
Duration: 74 minutes



If this is Wagner at one remove, which Leopold Stokowski himself recorded, followed by Matthias Bamert for Chandos, there’s no doubting the sonorous sound or the narrative power that is created.

From the thunder and glowing arrival of the “Das Rheingold” opener to the athletic vitality of “Ride of the Valkyries” (which closes the disc), there is a very particular sonority to the music-making here – faithful to both Wagner and Stokowski – and which is captured in demonstration-worthy sound by the Bournemouth Symphony, Naxos’s recording team and conjured by José Serebrier, a one-time assistant to and colleague of Stokowski (a couple of letters from Stokowski to Serebrier are reproduced in the booklet). The ‘humanity’ of ‘Wotan’s Farewell’ (not listed but a moving entrée to the ‘Magic Fire Music’) is also well attended to.

Urugayan conductor José SerebrierThe most substantial selection (36 minutes) is from “Tristan und Isolde”, the ‘Prelude’ (given with molten flow) and ‘Liebestod’ as we know them in concert performances separated if co-joined by the 20-minute ‘Love Music’ (darkly illicit) from Act Two as the centrepiece; voice-less, of course, but full of suspense and fluctuation and with a ‘join’ to the ‘Liebestod very well effected. Serebrier conducts with theatrical impulse, the BSO responding with ardour and conviction. Something more spiritual informs the sequence from Act Three of “Parsifal”, the music’s hefty recesses and magical happenings sonorously portrayed and never static.

With sumptuous recording, even if some of the treble is just slightly too ambient and ‘remote’, this is an impressive ‘take’ on Wagner’s creativity by a conductor (Stokowski) who was a lifelong devotee of Wagner’s music, the baton passed with certainty to Serebrier who has a similar and ‘living’ conviction to the cause.

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