Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)
Overture to the opera Parsifal (1882)
Overture to the opera Tannhäuser (1843 – 1845)
Vorspiel und Liebestod from the opera Tristan und Isolde (1857 – 1859)
Overture to the opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868)
Overture to the opera Lohengrin (1845 – 1848)
Conductor Teodor Currentzis
— I can recall how from the very first bars I found myself in of those happy states that almost all imaginative people experience while daydreaming or sleeping. I felt free from the shackles of heaviness, and I retrieved from my memory the perfect bliss that is streamed in the empyrean spheres (Charles Baudelaire on the overture to Lohengrin).
Wagner’s symphonic language — fluid, immensely rich, full of discoveries in harmony, compositional techniques, and instrumentation — served as an object of admiration for contemporaries no less than his revolution in the field of musical theatre. Richard Wagner’s orchestra is an independent, and perhaps even the dominant acting force in his operas. Sopranos, tenors and basses may strive for happiness, languish, dream, they suffer and die, but it is the orchestra that “explains” what motivates them. The subtlest spiritual aspirations, the slightest fluctuations of emotions, inexplicable, and therefore only more powerful psychological storms are born in the orchestra and encourage opera characters to act — either constructively or self-destructively.
In Wagner’s opera overtures, the orchestra not only comes to the forefront, but also presents a kind of digest of the musical events of the subsequent performance.