Wagner: Orchestral Music From the Ring

February 24, 2018

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573839 rr Wagner EU

As many of you know in addition to classical music I also have quite a fondness for film music which in my opinion is some of your modern classical music. How can you not listen to “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Trek” and not conjure up thoughts of Rimsky-Korsakov or Wagner. These two composers of the 19th century were the template of material that started 20th century film music. Both of them would have made fine Hollywood composers as they could write the type of music necessary for the wide range of emotions necessary. While there were others these two seem to standout as excellent examples.

The 64 minutes of material is the orchestral material to the 16 hours of opera, something that few people have ever listened to in it’s entirety. It shows the mastery that Wagner had. His ear was tuned to pick up the small nuances that were way over my head such as the use of a bass clarinet and a sax at a critical moment. He wrote as liner note writer Edward Yadzinski described as ‘small tuneful fragments as thematic material for individual characters’ (Leitmotifs). He pioneered the way for Strauss, Mahler, and Stravinsky and influenced Hollywood writers such as Korngold, Horner, and Williams.

All of this talk of theory, harmony, and orchestration took a second seat to his #1 love a lyricist. He built a special theater in Bayreuth to control the sound of the orchestra. It had levels to control the volume like a modern day equalizer. Pure genius!

I’m not very smart about Wagner so I can’t tell you how this recording is compared to the Maazel as an example. I can tell you I have nearly all the Buffalo Philharmonic recordings and like them very much. If you’re not familiar with Wagner give this a try and perhaps it will encourage you to try one of his operas.

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