Saturday, September 1, 2012

Transformation Music

We will not talk here about Richard Wagner the person, nor will we talk about how awfully obtuse the plot of Parsifal is. Instead, we will focus on the music, first the opening Prelude:

Georg Solti is a magician with this kind of music and many other kinds as well. I'm willing to say if there's one thing to hear by Wagner other than the flying Valkyries, this is it. Anyway, the motifs that surface here pop up thematically to season the rest of this Bühnenweihfestspiel (now is a good time for a beer). Let me leave you with two things; first, the entire libretto translated:

Then, one of the key scenes, "Verwandlungsmusik,"
or Transformation Music...

Download here: which you will hear the motifs from the Prelude as well as an enormous musical surprise unlike anything I've ever heard. It is awe-inspiring, and beautiful. Only a man with an ego the size of Wagner's could have thought it up. This version is performed by James Levine and the New York Met. Levine takes it slow - lets that grandeur sink in deep.

What else do I like by Wagner so far? Well, I think Tristan und Isolde is perfect, both for the music and the plot. The star-crossed lovers in that music drama are red-blooded, spiteful, feisty creatures. It is enjoyable every step of the way. The other is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, because it is so filled with melody and celebration. I have not heard the Ring cycle in its entirety. Then again, I haven't even turned 40; there's time yet for that.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Wagner's music is great! Oneday I will experience the entire ring cycle live. They did it back in Leeds when I was living there. My friend Martin went to the town hall for the epic sessions.