Wagner: The Ring - An Orchestral Adventure - Järvi

Wagner: The Ring - An Orchestral Adventure - Järvi

Chandos  CHSA 5060

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Wagner: The Ring - An Orchestral Adventure (arr. Henk de Vlieger), Siegfried Idyll

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme Järvi

It is over 15 years since Neeme Jarvi and the RSNO made a new recording for Chandos. So it is with particular pleasure that we announce this recording which marks Jarvi’s return to Scotland in his capacity as Conductor Laureate at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

This 67-minute, orchestra-only version of Wagner’s famous opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen is arranged by Henk de Vlieger, arranger, composer and percussionist in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. The work was commissioned by the orchestra and the result is a 14-section fiery musical spectacle entitled The Ring, an orchestral adventure. This symphonic ‘compilation’ compresses Wagner’s four mighty Ring operas, yet includes all the major themes and ‘leitmotifs’. The result is an overwhelming experience and a must for anyone who loves blazing orchestral colours.

The Minneapolis Tribune wrote; ‘The way that De Vlieger has created transitions between scenes and acts is quite ingenious… Bits of Rheingold, Walkure, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung floated past, melded together as if some Wagnerian superman who understood the whole and articulated it in particular. Highlights were everywhere. Horns, sounded offstage and on, reminded listeners of the great arias, without the singers to sing it… Toward the end, it actually seemed like we had experienced the entire Ring cycle – a tribute to the orchestrator’s talents,’ wrote the Boston Herald following a performance of the work. Coupled to this mighty work is Siegfried Idyll, which is thematically related to the Ring, and although with quite a different subject matter, complements the Orchestral Adventure perfectly.

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13 of 23 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

DSD recording
Reviews (2)

Review by John Miller - February 8, 2008

Wagnerites, avert your eyes now! What we have here is an orchestral compilation of The Ring by Henk de Vlieger, who from 1987 - 2002 was principal percussionist of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. His intention was to put together an orchestral précis of the cycle, carefully choosing the extracts to represent the impetus of the story and also make it symphonic in the sense of approximating a slow movement, a scherzo and so on. I am not quite so certain that the latter aim is actually perceptible in the end, but the intention was there. Wagner's wonderful and powerful scoring has not been altered, and no additions have been made except to move certain voice parts into the woodwind where crucial motifs were not already present in the orchestra. Henk de Vlieger has made similar compilations of Parsifal, Tristan and Meistersinger, so not only does he have an insider's view of the scores, he clearly is passionate about Wagner's music and wants to bring it to a wider public.

I was first exposed to The Ring by hearing Reginald Goodall's Götterdamerung in my student years. I quickly went to the record shop, but horrified by the cost of acquiring a full vinyl Ring on my grant, I settled for DG's 2-disc extracts from Karajan's version, and the orchestral excerpts by Szell, happily now on SACD. The shop assistant laughed and asked if I was cutting myy losses! Iam thus pre-disposed to enjoying the Ring music vicariously via orchestral excerpts, and although I now have the Ring discs, life is not long enough to listen to them very often.

For this recording, Neeme Järvi has returned to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, of which he was once Principal Conductor. In a press release, he notes that this is the first time he has recorded Wagner, and that he greatly enjoyed it, hoping to do more. He also commented that the RSNO is currently on very good form. There is ample evidence of both these factors in this disc. He takes a fairly swift but never rushed view of the music, launching it with an unerring trajectory from the first sub-Rhine rumblings to the soaring catharsis of the Redemption by Love motive in the final bars. The RSNO are with him all the way, with rich string tone, cogent winds and blazing brass.

Sonically, this is the best Chandos SACD which has come my way. Brian and Ralph Couzens set it down in the new Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow in August 2007, and acoustically this sounds an excellent recording venue. The orchestra is immediate but with plenty of space in which to expand, so that the big climaxes are truly satisfying. When the full brass chorus are letting rip, the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. 5.0 DSD sound is thrilling. Play it loud and hear your system respond. A demonstration SACD, without doubt. As an added bonus, Järvi's Siegfried Idyll is graceful, urgent and full of ardour.

While The Ring adventure is an uninterrupted piece, 14 access points are provided, so you can easily find your favourite section, be it the descent to Nibelheim with its sparkling anvils, the Gods entering their new real estate, a stunningly aerial posse of Valkyries, or the devastating tragedy of Siegfried's death as his body is raised onto his shield and carried off.

Some people will loathe this disc and all it stands for. Unashamedly, I loved it, for both the emotional and the sonic experience. Well done Chandos!

Copyright © 2008 John Miller and


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Review by Graham Williams - February 9, 2008

The overwhelming grandeur of the orchestral music in Wagner’s epic Ring cycle has spawned countless arrangements ever since it was written, and performances of what are often referred to as “bleeding chunks” are a regular part of concert life today. Some conductors and arrangers have gone even further and tried to produce orchestral syntheses of the tetralogy, notably Lorin Maazel with his Telarc CD “ The Ring without Words”, in an attempt to add more coherence to the excerpts and place them in their correct order and context.

In 1991 Henk de Vlieger, arranger, composer and principal percussionist with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic produced “The Ring, an orchestral adventure”. The work was commissioned by the orchestra and is dedicated to Edo de Waart who recorded it for RCA some years ago and understandably has championed it ever since. Such has been its success that it has received over 90 performances worldwide from Boston to Sydney to Moscow.

De Vlieger has aimed to model his approach on the idea of a four-part symphony in which each segment flowed seamlessly into the next. The music of Das Rheingold providing the opening movement, Die Walküre the scherzo, Siegfried the slow movement and Götterdämmerung the finale. The result is amazingly successful and it is unlikely that anyone will feel that many of his or her favourite passages are missing or too abridged in De Vlieger’s brilliant arrangement. The work is divided into 14 sections, which are played without a break, but each is allotted a separate track on this disc.

It is over 15 years since Neeme Järvi made a recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and his return, as Conductor Laureate, seems to have inspired both him and the orchestra to new heights. The orchestral playing is simply superb from start to finish, particularly the brass, and Järvi’s performance here is full of thrusting energy and passion, so different from some of his recent lack-lustre performances on another label. It is swift, (60’17” against the 67’ published in the score – more Solti or Boulez than Knappertsbusch or Goodall!), but only occasionally would a little more repose have been welcome. Järvi’s tempi for the main work does, however, leave room on the disc for the lovely Siegfried Idyll.

This is played in the version usually heard in concert halls today, with a larger body of strings than the string quartet and double bass used at the celebrated first performance given at Wagner’s villa in Triebschen near Lake Lucerne, (incorrectly called ‘Wahnfried’ by the writer of the booklet notes). The total timing of Järvi’s performance (15’07”) will raise a few eyebrows, and it is evident from the first few bars that at times it seems almost perfunctory, lacking the essential tenderness and ignoring the frequent markings of ‘Ruhig’ in the score. While few would want a performance as marmoreal as that once recorded by Glenn Gould lasting 24’30”, this one is its antithesis and equally controversial. This is a pity as once again the orchestral playing is again responsive and polished.

In the both works, the superb Chandos 5.0 DSD recording, engineered by Ralph Couzens, captures the kaleidoscopic hues of Wagner’s orchestration magnificently and the placing of Siegfried’s horn solo, just before the slaying of Fafner, in the surround channels is especially imaginative and thrilling. The sound has both amplitude and depth, while the warm acoustic of the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow provides an attractive and appropriate ambience for this music.

Fully paid up Wagnerians will certainly find this SACD most intriguing while the less devoted may well enjoy an extended taste of Der Ring des Nibelungen without the need to allocate 14 hours for the experience of the complete cycle.

Copyright © 2008 Graham Williams and


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