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Every Note a GemOct. 4 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Composer Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930) never really had a chance at establishing himself as a major presence, either in the concert hall or the opera house. In his own time, he had to find a way to emerge from behind the shadow of his own father, and overcome the disapproval of his mother Cosima -- who passed away only a few months before he did -- over his private life (he was bi-sexual); and in the decades after his death, the Wagner family did their best to suppress his works, believing that the family "franchise" had room for only one composer-genius in the blood-line.
This set shows vividly what a loss that combination of circumstances and others -- including the sheer weight of his father's work and the resulting impossible-to-shift center-of-gravity associated with the Wagner name -- was to the world, for it reveals Siegfried as a formidable composer in his own right, if not on the level of his father (and how many are there on THAT level?). The music throughout, which owes more stylistically to Siegfried's major teacher, Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921), than it does to Richard Wagner, is mostly utterly charming and memorable more often than not. Anyone buying this set had better be prepared for immersion in late Romantic lyricism up to their necks or deeper, but there's enough variety to all of it so that one doesn't feel wearied. In fact, it's astonishing how far Wagner (who started his professional adult life as an architect) carried his inspiration and language in various overtures and other programmatic works without repeating himself -- obviously Bayreuth (where he was artistic director from 1908 until his death) occupied and sustained him, but the evidence here suggests a man who might well have preceded Erich Wolfgang Korngold into the film industry as a refuge, had sound only come to movies a decade earlier than it actually did. The set is not only comprehensive but it's a bargain as well.