Richard Wagner and Lighter Fare


Richard Wagner and Lighter Fare

This Week in Classical Music: Might 20, 2024.  Wagner and Lighter Issues.  Richard Wagner’s 211th anniversary is on Might 22nd: he was born in Leipzig in 1813.  Wagner’s music is Richard Wagnernonetheless so recent (and infrequently so controversial) that it feels unusual that he was solely two years youthful than his stepfather, Franz Liszt, and three years youthful than Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann, whose locations within the pantheon of European music have been established a very long time in the past.  Hitler’s love for his music didn’t assist Wagner’s repute, and neither did the composer’s abhorrent antisemitism.  But when we put the non-musical concerns apart (and we acknowledge that it’s simpler stated than performed), what we’ve is a musical genius, effectively forward of his contemporaries, a composer whose music influenced generations of musicians all around the world, generally in very surprising methods (assume, for instance, of the orchestral works of Claude Debussy, who had a love-hate relationship with Wagner).

Liebestod, or Love Demise in German, is the ultimate music of Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde, and one in all his best-known items.  In it, Isolde sings over Tristan’s useless physique.  It’s a tough piece, particularly contemplating it comes on the finish of an nearly five-hour opera.  In our library we’ve three recordings of this scene, with Kirsten Flagstad, Birgit Nilsson and Waltraud Meier; all three had been main Wagnerian sopranos of their era.  We like all three, however Flagstad’s Jean Françaixin all probability essentially the most, although the recording high quality will not be nice.  Right here it’s, from 1936, with Fritz Reiner conducting the orchestra of the Royal Opera Home (Covent Backyard).

On a a lot lighter notice is the anniversary of Jean Françaix, whose music was sunny, witty and complicated.  Françaix was born on Might 23rd of 1912 in Le Mans.  His musical items had been apparent from an early age.  He studied in Le Mans after which on the Paris Conservatory.  He additionally took classes with Nadia Boulanger, who thought of him one in all her most proficient pupils, a reward of the very best order contemplating the various proficient musicians who studied together with her.  Right here’s Jean Françaix’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra.  The soloist is Claude Françaix, the composer’s daughter.  The London Symphony Orchestra is carried out by Antal Dorati.

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