Wagner: Quite Nice Really


Sir Charles Mackerras, conductor
Christine Brewer, soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra

Royal Festival Hall, Thursday 10 December

Richard Wagner:

1.  Excerpts from ‘Tannhauser’ 2.  Prelude and Liebestod from ‘Tristan und Isolde’  3.  Excerpts from ‘Gotterdammerung’

To begin at the beginning:  Sir Charles Mackerras got a tremendous round of applause for still being alive, and the Philharmonia players (I was sitting in the front row) had the air of people placing entire trust in their commander.  And the Tannhauser extracts were good–Mackerras levered himself from his stool at the more…erect..moments.  Then we were into the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, where the Philharmonia played lustrously and Christine Brewer sang nicely (but was sometimes downed by the orchestra), but I did wonder about having the very beginning and end without any of the middle–sometimes `in these performances the soprano can suggest all that has been omitted by her acting, but not here I think (think because I couldn’t see her from my position).

While waiting for the second half I noticed that all of the female players were wearing high heels, and in some cases pretty uncomfortable stilettos.  We had Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, The Death of Siegfried, Siegfried’s Funeral March and Brunnhilde’s Immolation Scene and again without context it all lacked colour and meaning somehow.

So, that Wagner–quite nice and even a bit frisky in places, but nothing to get overly excited about…

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