RNSO – Wagner’s The Ring, an Orchestral Adventure
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sat 23 Feb; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 24 Feb
When, in the early 1980s, conductor Neeme Järvi left his Estonian homeland to work in the west, it didn’t go down too well with the powers that be. His name was taken off recordings he had made there, so, on being appointed Principal Conductor of the RSNO 23 years ago, one of his priorities was to make sure that he produced a catalogue of recordings that was second to none. Almost 70 were released. Now, as the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate, Järvi returns to one of his favourite orchestras for the Scottish premiere of Wagner’s The Ring, an Orchestral Adventure and its associated release on the Chandos label, the first recording from this celebrated partnership for 15 years.
Although the four operas which make up Wagner’s Ring cycle take around 15 hours total performance time, the orchestral version is a mere one hour in length. It is an arrangement by the Dutch composer and percussionist Henk de Vlieger, who has taken the extensive orchestral sections of music in the operas and put them together, in sequence, to tell the story of Wagner’s epic musical dramas. Primarily, the music is pure Wagner and includes all the big tunes, such as ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, ‘Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’ and ‘Entry of the Gods into Valhalla’. But it is not simply a collection of great Wagnerian moments. De Vlieger’s Wagner is a coherently structured piece of symphonic music that can well stand its ground in the concert hall.
For Järvi, the performance and recording project is a particularly special event. ‘This is the first time I have recorded the music of Wagner,’ he says, ‘and I hope it is the first of many. It is a great pleasure creating music with the RSNO, who are in excellent form right now.’ The recording was released on 28 January.