Lorin Maazel's orchestral transcription of 'The Ring',
enjoyed by KELLY FERJUTZ
Any type of live performance can be a voyage of discovery. Sometimes you go where you really didn't want to go, and other times you're transported beyond anything anticipated. I knew last weekend's concerts by the Cleveland Orchestra [11-14 May 2006 at Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, USA] would be special, and I was so right! Even thought the originally scheduled conductor was unable to appear, and a guest conductor had to be found with very little advance notice.
Like Little Jack Horner, the orchestra pulled out a plum! I have no idea how they did this, but they brought in the youngish Giancarlo Guerrero, currently of Eugene, Oregon. (Don't worry if you've never heard of him before now. You'll soon be hearing more. Lots more. He's only in his mid-30s, but is well on his way to a stellar career.)
You see, the anticipated conductor was also the genius behind the transcription of the work for orchestra meant for recording purposes only. In 1987 or so, Telarc Records commissioned Lorin Maazel to put together an orchestral condensation of Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelungen. After choosing twenty themes -- or leitmotifs -- Maazel put them together into one large collage, using only music as written by Wagner for the purpose, and then the piece was recorded by Mr Maazel and the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1988.
Richard Wagner - The 'Ring' Without Words - Orchestral Highlights from The Ring Cycle. Lorin Maazel. Berliner Philharmoniker. CD cover © 1990 Telarc
So, the program for this weekend's concerts consisted of only this one 'work' -- the condensation of -- The Ring without Words, in Maazel's version. For ten years, Mr Maazel was Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra (from 1972 to 1982) so his return to conduct these concerts was eagerly anticipated. It was not to be, however, as an ear infection stranded him in Europe, leaving the orchestra to find a substitute conductor -- pronto. Would they abandon the Wagner in favor of something a bit easier on conductor and musicians? They didn't have to, as Mr Guerrero was not only available for the week, but also familiar with the music. In Eugene, they say he creates magic. He certainly did that here.
Copyright © 17 May 2006
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA