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Subject: Re: This week's Das Rheingold
From: Thomas Michael Guenther <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Thomas Michael Guenther <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 29 Mar 2009 12:44:06 +0200
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 For me the problem with conducting Wagner today - even with Thielemann - is , that the conductors neglect the fact, that Wagner's compositions are first and foremost music for the theatre stage. The Tempi must be always moving and not stand still in time and space.
Wagner was bestowed with a huge ego and being very tiny in physical stature, his music in itself is already fused with a lot of pathos. For my taste, if you blow this up out of proportion, the music becomes pathetic. When you listen to the mentioned oldtime conductors, you rarely get any "wrong" Tempo. The take the speed from the action, from the scene. 
I think especially of the 1940 recording from the Colon with Erich Kleiber of the "Walküre". In the first act at the reentrance of Sieglinde, Kleiber speeds up, and the scene gets alive ( after all, Sieglinde is in a hurry). It even illuminates the musical structure, showing that Wagner still somehow uses Recitativ and Aria in a "durchkomponierter" form.
Of course there was then the exception of Knappertsbusch, who used his slow Tempi, but he was such a gigantic personality, that he could sustaine it without getting boring and just being slow. Nowadays the conductors try to outdo him (I remember a "Tristan & Isolde" from Houston with Eschenbach. It took him 40 !!!! seconds for the first Tristanmotiv - absurd).


> Betreff: 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.
>  
> Martin
> 
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