Friday, July 27, 2007

Thielemann's Rheingold

So, we're now about an hour and forty-five minutes into Christian Thielemann's performance of Das Rheingold today. I might suggest that this is, roughly, akin to his Parsifal - where the orchestra is the real star of the show. The singers, of course, for the Wiener Staatsoper performances were considerably better than the Bayreuth cast. It might be the Bayern 4 feed, but Alberich strikes me as a bit nasal for my taste. I have no greater complaints, but this probably isn't a cast for the ages.


From the sounds of the applause immediately after the conclusion, the audience seemed to enjoy this Rheingold. All things considered, it was not a bad performance over the air. Thielemann took right about 2h30m to get through it, which is a pretty down-the-middle timing for this one.


At 5:06 PM, Blogger Daland said...

Rheingold: a still not convincing Thielemann

Hope to be wrong, but the (still) young Christian seems to be regressing, rather than progressing. He looks to me like someone that thinks or feel to be “arrived” (and the podium of the Orchestergraben can quite give this giddiness… even Giuseppe Sinopoli catched this syndrome!). Too many unjustified liberties in the tempi, and always pushing the “emphatic” side, which really disturbs.

Examples? Just a couple, towards the end: we must remember that the last tempo indication that Wagner put on the score is a “Mässig bewegt” exactly at the beginning of the first “rainbow-bridge” exposition; from this point on, no other tempo indication is given. Now:

- at the “sword” theme’s first entrance there is simply a change from ¾ to C, and this suffices to get a dilation of the musical phrase; but Thielemann introduces for free an own “rallentando”, which transforms this sublime piece into a parody, simply grotesque!
- a similar “rallentando” is arbitrarily introduced by Thielemann at the beginning of the final “rainbow-bridge” exposition, which gives to his Rheingold's closing a quite disturbing “Nazi” shape.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I went back to my recording of the live feed to listen to your examples, and I'd say that your points are pretty fair. Thielemann has, as has been noted, a tendency to be a bit self-consciously grand. If he's adding grandeur, then I'm not going to complain as much as if he were stripping everything down and reducing it to Chamber-Wagner. He does this sort of thing a lot, and it has made a few of his CDs unlistenable, but there are times when it's not so bad.

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