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Leaves of Regeneration

Wagner's 'Tannhäuser' -
reviewed by
ROBERT ANDERSON

'... a subtlety no other house can match.'

Wagner: Tannhäuser. © 2006 EuroArts Music International GmbH

Wagner went to his garden grave convinced he owed the world a revised Tannhäuser, and to a certain extent grandson Wolfgang has provided it. In Wagner's day the overture was such a hit he dared not tinker with it in any of his versions. Wolfgang has no such inhibitions. Pilgrims start wandering round about the simple set staff in hand after only a dozen bars, making little progress towards their Roman goal. But of course they make a tactful disappearance as soon as Venus whips up the music. Gestures of her entourage were wild enough to entrance me from beginning to end, but Tannhäuser was uncivil enough to sleep throughout, stretched in sublime unconcern by Venus's side [watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 2, 5:58-7:40].

The opening of the 1989 Bayreuth 'Tannhäuser'. DVD screenshot © 1990 Unitel
The opening of the 1989 Bayreuth 'Tannhäuser'. DVD screenshot © 1990 Unitel

 

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Copyright © 11 February 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller