Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Overture: Rienzi [13’13"]
Overture: Die fliegende Holländer [10’37"]
Overture: Tannhäuser [15’16"]
Prelude to Act I: Lohengrin [10’37"]
Prelude to Act III: Lohengrin [3’02]
Overture: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [10’02"]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Yuri Simonov

Brilliant Classics


Collins Classics originally recorded this collection of popular Wagner overtures and preludes though this reissue gives no information as to when and where the recordings were made (it is a DDD recording, by the way). No complaints, though, about the quality of the recorded sound which is full and well balanced.

The performances are a touch uneven. I thought that Simonov shaped the timeless Act I prelude to Lohengrin pretty effectively. The tempo flows nicely without being rushed and Simonov gets his players to realise well the translucent beauty of the opening. As the music progresses he builds the tension impressively.

He is good, too, in the Meistersinger overture, sensibly adopting a moderate tempo which avoids pomposity and he keeps the various lines of counterpoint clear. This, too, was a successful performance which I enjoyed.

I was a little less sure elsewhere, however. In some of the other pieces tempi sometimes seem to err on the side of caution. Thus, for example, the speed for the Pilgrims’ Hymn which opens the Tannhäuser overture just sounded a touch too slow and, as a result, rather careful. In the Weber-esque Rienzi overture I liked the suspenseful opening (even if the solo trumpet does allow the pitch of those cruelly exposed single notes to waver slightly). However, when the speed picks up (track 1, 5’48") I thought Simonov had chosen a tempo which was just a bit too deliberate. It’s only a matter of fairly fine degree (and other listeners may have differing views about these things) but such details do tend to make a difference between decent and excellent performances.

This is pretty unexceptionable collection and I think anyone buying it on impulse would not feel short changed (though they should be warned there is no documentation at all accompanying the CD). That said, there are many such collections on the market, many at medium or budget price, and it would be idle to pretend that these performances seriously challenge the hegemony of the likes of Klemperer, Reiner, Szell or Tennstedt, to name but a few.

John Quinn

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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