Staged and directed by Richard Wagner's grandson Wolfgang at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1984, this production of Wagner's only comedy dispenses with the common cliches to reveal the humanity of each character. Here, Beckmesser is no longer a foolish caricature but a cultivated intellectual; Stolzing emerges as a thoughtful individual rather than aggressive aristocret; and Hans Sachs sheds his solemn patriarchal veneer to become a likeable middle-aged man. “Hermann Prey´s interpretation of Beckmesser as a cultivated intellectual is a triumph of dramatic and vocal artistry: a stunning performance . . . Brilliant . . . Bernd Weikl as Sachs – an almost unique combination of musical refinement and expressive power.” (Abendzeitung, Munich)
Wolfgang Wagner’s arrestingly beautiful production, filmed live at Bayreuth in 1981 and directed by Brian Large, features a stellar cast led by Eva Randova, Bernd Weikl and Siegfried Jerusalem. “A production and performance that showed the festival at its finest… Wolfgang Wagner’s Bayreuth production of his grandfather’s “farewell to the world” has “an unusual beauty and logic of its own… There is an air of magic and mystery about the staging… The performance was excellent… Horst Stein [conducted] a beautifully proportioned Parsifal.” (The New York Times)
For all the charges of unacceptable schematicism levelled at Vivaldi and his kind, Monica Huggett, as supremely imaginative as well as technically and stylistically accomplished an exponent of the baroque violin as any, demonstrates clearly that this music benefits from the guiding hand of a charismatic interpreter: her delivery of Vivaldi’s exuberant, even manic, inspiration is never less than involving and, in the slow movements, never less than touching.
Naxos intend to record Vivaldi’s entire orchestral corpus, and Raphael Wallfisch’s integral four-disc survey of the 27 cello concertos inaugurates this visionary, though plainly Herculean undertaking. Soloist and orchestra employ modern instruments; director Nicholas Kraemer contends that authentic protocols can be ably met by contemporary ensembles and, in articulation, style and ornamentation, these pristine, engaging readings have little to fear from period practitioners. Wallfisch’s pointed, erudite and spirited playing is supported with enlightened restraint by the CLS, directed from either harpsichord or chamber organ by Kraemer, whose sensitive continuo team merits high praise throughout. Without exception, these Concertos adopt an orthodox fast-slow-fast three-movement format. Wallfisch, dutifully observant in matters of textual fidelity, plays outer movements with verve, energy and lucidity, such that high-register passagework, an omnipresent feature of these works, is enunciated with the pin-sharp focus of Canaletto’s images of 18th-century Venice, which adorn the covers of these issues.