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Subject: Re: AC's Question about Solti
From: Graeme Wright <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Graeme Wright <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 29 Mar 2009 17:40:48 +0100
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The scoring actually calls for 7 harps. In the conductors defence I doubt
that even at the MET there is room for say 32 violins! That is 8 desks of
1st and of 2nds!! There is one small passage where there are actually 6
separate harp parts and even this can be covered with a small amount of
rewriting that even I could do.. I also understand that the harp parts at
the end of Die Walkure are unplayable and were rewritten by another hand, so
much for playing what Wagner wrote even in the Solti recording.

Regards

Graeme


-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Joe OConnell
Sent: 29 March 2009 17:21
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: AC's Question about Solti

AC asks, "Why is it, we wonder, that . . .  after hearing a reading of any
of the Ring operas by any conductor working today one feels impelled
irresistibly to reach for the Solti recording?"

A plausible reason is that few conductors today conduct Wagner's own music,
as _he_ wrote and orchestrated it.  If they don't conduct _his_ music, then
it won't sound like the same, because it is not the same.  

Solti (with Culshaw) used Wagner's full score, with all 136 separate
instruments, just as Wagner wrote.  (Note 1:  the 136 separate instrumental
parts are played, because of doubling and tripling, by a fewer number of
musicians.)  (Note 2:  the 136 "instruments" includes the thunder machine,
all 18 anvils, etc.  See the entire list at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Ring_des_Nibelungen#Instrumentation --).
(Note 3:  the 136 instruments have been adjusted to reflect the fact that 6
of the parts scored by Wagner are played exactly the same today but by only
3 instruments.  See preceding cite.)

Wagner's Rheingold produces a unique sound and texture, with layers of music
produced by an exact number of designated instruments, which play in a
perfect ratio with one another.  

For example, each of the six harp parts in the Rainbow Bridge is accompanied
with separate parts, each of which is played by 4 violins.  Why the 1:4
ratio?  (a)  Because Wagner wrote it that way.  And (b) because each harp
part balances perfectly with each of the parts played by 4 violins.  If,
instead of these 6 harps, the conductor reduces these 6 separate harp parts
by half or more, then it's not Wagner's music.  The conductor left some of
the 6 separate harp parts "on the cutting room floor".  To state the
obvious:  Wagner never wrote the Rainbow Bridge for fewer than 6 harps, so
if it's played with fewer than 6, then it cannot include all 6 parts, so it
cannot be Wagner.

Therefore, "any conductor working today" who wants to conduct _Wagner_
starts with Wagner's own score, with Wagner's own instrumentation and with
Wagner's own orchestration.  Only then does the conductor add his/her own
interpretation to the Wagner's work.  Any conductor, who fails to conduct
Wagner's score as Wagner created it, is like the director who fails to
follow Wagner's story and staging, or like the singers who fail to follow
Wagner's libretto:  whether or not the result is "irresistible art", it is
not Wagner's irresistible art.

Because Solti conducted the music that Wagner wrote, and because so few
other recorded conductors have done this, it is obvious why Solti's is one
of the few authentic performances.  One may disagree with Solti's pace, with
his emphasis, with his balance and color, and with his interpretation, but
one may not disagree with the fact that he conducted Wagner's own score,
with Wagner's own instrumentation and with Wagner's own orchestration.

Joe

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of M. Rommel
Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 4:58 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: This week's Das Rheingold

The always interesting Sounds & Fury likens the Levine' Rheingold this week
to an 'inert lump' and comments that the production was 'bereft of all inner
animation.' Though somewhat harsh, the critique rings true. Solti's Ring was
mentioned as a template in comparison to which Levine will always wane, and
this is true, but not only to Solti. Who can listen to Levine and not
compare his earnest offering to Krauss or Keilberth or Knappertsbusch or the
much neglected Rudolf Moralt, conductors under whose batons Wagner lives and
breathes? As arguably unfair as such comparisons might be, one is left to
wonder which conductor today can best animate Wagner, best bring Wagner to
life and edify us in doing so the way Christian Thielemann can.
 
Marti

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