Building the ‘Ring’: The Week in Classical Music
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I loved Michael Cooper’s tight yet rich look at the leitmotifs that are the building-block themes of Wagner’s “Ring,” which is playing — have we reminded you enough? — in two complete cycles at the Metropolitan Opera over the next two weeks.
The Siegfried in a few of those performances is a heldentenor new to the Met but already eminent in Wagner operas in Europe: Andreas Schager. Read our profile of this wonderful singer, who started out — surprise, surprise — in light operetta.
Here’s some of his indefatigable Tannhäuser, in Calixto Bieito’s staging:
Alex Marshall spoke to the organists of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, who are relieved by the positive news about the great instrument’s condition after the brutal fire. “When you play the organ,” one of them said, “the stones are singing.”
Seth Colter Walls reviewed a rare (and brief) revival of Kurt Weill’s psychoanalysis musical “Lady in the Dark.”
Tony Tommasini covered the New York Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov in the American premiere of Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2, “Kenotaph.” Mr. Larcher insists it’s not program music, but says that the piece honors the thousands of refugees who have died fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s mournful and angry — appropriately so. Hear for yourself:
I’ve listened to a little of Andras Schiff’s new Schubert album, recorded on a period fortepiano. It’s difficult, after hearing these works played so many times on modern pianos, to accept an instrument with such a different basic sound, but Mr. Schiff’s playing is, as ever, alert and intelligent. It’s on Spotify:
Outside our pages, I’m impressed by WQXR’s compendium of essential Dvorak recordings.
Micaela Baranello has reviewed a new book about Wagner and theatrical technology. It eventually arrives at Robert Lepage’s Met staging of the “Ring” and argues that the “most authentic aspect of Lepage’s production is the overall failure of its illusionist agenda” because of technical glitches.
Verena Lafferentz — the last surviving grandchild of Richard Wagner, and surely one of Hitler’s last surviving intimates — has died. We have an obituary. On his blog, Alex Ross observes dryly: “In later years, Verena appears to have felt no responsibility to help us understand Hitler or to shed light on her family’s complicity in the regime.”
End of an era, and a good thing, too. ZACHARY WOOLFE
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