Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner

Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner

Article excerpt

Wagner

Symphonies--in C; in E (fragment, orch Motti)

MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jun Markl

Naxos (M) 8 573413 (56' * DDD)

Wagner's would-be Beethovenian Symphony in C major is tolerably well known. Though a student work, the composer retained a soft spot for it, retrieving the parts in the 1870s and conducting it himself in 1882. Never the most reliable of witnesses, he held Mendelssohn responsible for its suppression. In the case of the Symphony in E major he had only himself to blame. No more than the first movement and a fragment of the second were completed in short score in 1834, rendered performable by Felix Mottl after the composer's death.

Non-specialists unfamiliar with this torso may find the present issue a more economical introduction than its rivals which include the more generous Chandos anthology cited below. Alongside the two symphonies, Neeme Jarvi takes in the familiar Rienzi Overture plus two further rarities, the Huldigungsmarsch and Kaisermarsch. About those, however, Gramophone's Arnold Whittall was scathing: 'You'd have to go a long way to find worse compositions by a truly great composer.'

The E major Symphony was clearly intended to be a softer-grained, more Schubertian piece than its predecessor, despite taking off from either the Scherzo of Beethoven's Ninth or his Fidelio Overture. While neither conductor allows the argument to hang fire, I warmed to the more visceral quality of Markl's Leipzig Radio forces, partly attributable to Naxos's closely focused sound. …

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