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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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 [71.25]

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The composer was the only son of Richard Wagner and Cosima (then von Bülow). He trained as an architect before turning to the family business of music. After study with Humperdinck, and others, he conducted in Germany and at Bayreuth from 1896. However, he turned to production and composition and first staged works at Bayreuth in 1901; he succeeded his mother as artistic director of the festival in 1908. Siegfried married an Englishwoman, Winifred Williams, who directed Bayreuth from his death until 1944. She achieved notoriety for her enthusiasm for National Socialism and entertaining Hitler at Bayreuth.

Siegfried Wagner wrote fifteen completed operas, of which twelve were staged, as well as tone poems and a violin concerto. The CPO label has issued a number of discs featuring the composer's works and these are referred to in the essay notes in the booklet. These informative notes are given in German, English and French, as are biographical notes on the conductor and singer. The words of the extracts are given with English translation only.

Track one, of 18 minutes duration, from opus 13, one of the composer’s more popular works (produced Rostock, 1923) tells all about music, singer, conductor and recording. The music is largely lyric and melodic, if somewhat stylised. One can perhaps too readily visualise a singer declaiming whilst stood on a rock. The influences are more from his teachers and lack the genius of his father. The music is, nonetheless, interesting and certainly worth hearing. The booklet postulates that the soprano parts of Siegfried's operas cover a broad spectrum, from child woman via the disappointed lover to the woman burnt at the stake, an adulteress and a 'honourable' prostitute. Dagmar Schellenberger has a pleasingly full-toned and creamy soprano voice with good legato and extension at each end. She has graduated through the classic Mozartian lyric soprano parts, essayed the three female roles in 'Hoffman', and with her capacity for expression and nuance, as exhibited here, can look forward to an expanding career in heavier roles. I shall be looking out for her name in the theatre and on disc. I note from the booklet that she will feature in forthcoming CPO issues which will include Siegfried's opera 'Die heilige Linde', as well as Tatjana in Lehár's only opera.

The conductor, not previously known to me, has recorded a number of discs of Siegfried Wagner's works on CPO and elsewhere, as well as other symphonic works 'off the beaten path'. His reading here seems idiomatic and wholly in sympathy with both the composer and the singer. He allows Schellenberger to phrase and does not hurry the music inappropriately. Opera buffs should listen to this disc and its music without thinking too much of the surname.

The recording is bright and airy with the orchestral textures well balanced and unconstricted. The singer is nicely set within the overall acoustic. The supporting singers are all adequate if set a little further back (tr. 8).


Robert J. Farr

 


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