Mastodon Janowski Parsifal released - samples below - The Wagnerian

Janowski Parsifal released - samples below

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 15 March 2012 | 5:24:00 am

The Janowski/Penatone Wagner edition continues now with its third release: Parsifal. Although the CD/SACD will not be available till March 19th, if you are impatient like me,  you can download it from an on-line retailer near you now. I include an Amazon app below for you to sample but of course this does not mean I in anyway endorse Amazon - or anyone else for that matter. I also include a review from the original performance in 2011.

Evgeny Nikitin (Amfortas), Christian Elsner (Parsifal), Franz-Josef Selig (Gurnemanz), Michelle de Young (Kundry/Stimme aus der Hohe), Dimitry Ivaschenko (Titurel), Eike Wilm Schulte (Klingsor)
Rundfunkchor Berlin & Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Marek Janowski

Wagner’s Parsifal, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, 08.04.2011


The audiences in Berlin are almost uniquely spoiled – besides two major opera houses (and an adventurous third one), the city counts with a a couple of world-class orchestras. I have to understand that as the reason for the way Marek Janowski and his RSB Orchestra are usually overlooked. I particularly value Mr. Janowski for his complete recording of Wagner’s Ring with the Staatskapelle Dresden, a paragon of structural clarity if a bit short on drama (and a more natural recorded sound…). When I had the opportunity of asking him years ago what is his objective as a Wagnerian conductor, his answer was: “clarity, clarity, clarity!”. And he is still faithful to his creed, as he proved this evening.
Janowski and the RSB have launched a very ambitious project of performing all Wagner’s mature works (in the sense of “from Der fliegende Holländer on”) in concert with international casts. Unfortunately, I have missed the first installment, but couldn’t let the second one pass. And it has been certainly worth the detour. Although the RSB does not have the glamorous sound of the Berlin Philharmonic (it is particularly unvaried in color and maybe short in dynamics), it is an extremely capable Wagnerian orchestra, ready to give its conductor all it can do. And I suspect purely beautiful and big sounds are not what Janowski is looking for anyway. Although they might have been helpful in the Karfreitagszauber passage and other key moments, one would find more than compensation in a performance where one could feel as if reading the score. Really, everything Wagner wrote would come clearly and naturally to you in transparent orchestral sound, perfectly balanced and intelligently set together and consequent tempi that made phrasing sharp as blue-ray image. That said, life is never so simple – although I had the second act of my dreams this evening, the outer acts, clear and musical as they were, seem to cry for… overwhelmingly rich orchestral sound, even at the expense of some transparency. Especially in a concert performance. But then these acts depend very much on the casting for Gurnemanz.
That Franz-Josef Selig’s voice is outstandingly beautiful is no matter of dispute. Its voluminous velvetiness and the ductility that allows it touching soft tones made his Sarastro famous. One can feel a “but” coming and here it comes – since some time, his high register has been sounding tense and discolored unless he sings it piano. As it is, his fondness for low dynamics and his elegant phrasing makes his Gurnemanz convincingly benign and sensitive, but recently he sounds too often uncomfortable when required to sing full out in his high register. As a result, many Wagnerian climaxes hang fire – particularly in the Philharmonie, which is not the user-friendliest place for singers.

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