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Siegfried WAGNER (1869-1930)
Scenes and Arias for Soprano
Der Schmied von Marienburg Op. 13 (1922)
Prelude to Act 2 and Friedelind’s Aria, Act 2, 1
Der Kobold Op. 3 (1904)
Verena’s Song, Act 3, 1
Sternegebot Op. 5 (1908)
Agnes’ Final Song, Act 3, 5
Schwarzschwanenreich Op. 7 (1918)
Prelude to Act 3 and Hulda’s Scene, Act 3, 1
Der Heidenkönig Op. 9 (1912?)
Ellida’s Scene, Concert version from Act 1, 1, and Act 3, 2
Der Friedensengel Op. 10 (1920?)
Mita’s Scene, Act 2, 1
Rainulf und Adelasia Op. 14 (1922?)
Adelasia’s Song, Act 1, 10.
Sonnenflammen Op. 8 (1916?)
Scene of the Dance Interpreter, Act2, 6
Dagmar Schellenberger (soprano)
WDR Rundfunkchor Köln
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Werner Andreas Albert (conductor)
Recorded in the Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany on 3-7 April 2000
CPO 999 794-2


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The surprise of this disc hits you at once with the opening, surely not Elizabeth’s Greeting from Wagner’s Tannhäuser? Then it all falls into place, and of course the son is going to have to take his place in the shadow of his father. Most composers after Wagner were, so being his closest blood relative, it’s no wonder that the poor man never stood a chance of creating his own musical persona. As well as those similarities with his father there are also definable moments of the influences of Richard Strauss and Humperdinck here and there - again understandable. Having said that and virtually condemned poor Siegfried to the role of the Invisible Man of music, and despite the unwise choice of daft subject matter or dafter libretti, there is some pretty fine stuff here, particularly the parts which sound either like Tristan or the Ring. In the case of the latter it tends to be reminiscences of the nasty characters such as Alberich or his own son Hagen, in the former it’s the erotic love music. Siegfried is a good orchestrator and knows how to shape a melodic line. Dagmar Schellenberger is a bit stretched at the bottom of her voice, which tends to lose its focus and disappear into the orchestral textures but elsewhere she is thrilling and bright of tone. Despite the description of the roles she is portraying here as child-women, they should not be underestimated (like Gretel in Humperdinck’s fairytale opera) and require hefty vocal stamina. It’s not a fully formed, convincing Wagnerian voice yet and came as no surprise to me to find no Wagner roles in her biography in the booklet. Impressive though this reads, there is no sign of the Master, though Siegfried’s Die heilige Linde is there (curiously not featured on this disc), but Elsa, Eva and Sieglinde are within sight. On the other hand Werner Andreas Albert steers a safe ship with the fine WDR orchestra and has seven CDs of Siegfried’s operas already behind him, so he has a secure grip on the proceedings here.

Written between 1903 and 1922 these operas now make the rarest of forays onto the stage, not even Bayreuth has the confidence to put them on, but meanwhile these sort of brave ventures from the likes of CPO keep the flame burning, One day Siegfried’s own Siegfried will come along and wake them up from their mountain-top slumbers after so many years asleep. You can never get away from Wagner père.

Christopher Fifield

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