Music Festival: Wagner brings out the emotion

Canberra International Music Festival ‘Wagner and The Grail’ At Llewellyn Hall, May 18 Reviewed by Len Power

STRONG emotion is at the heart of Richard Wagner’s music. ‘Wagner and The Grail’, the concert presented at Llewellyn Hall as part of the Canberra International Music Festival, gave us the opportunity to experience those emotions in three outstanding pieces.

It began with the Australian premiere of Gavin Bryars’ “The Porazzi Fragment for 21 Solo Strings”, which was conducted by Bryars himself. Based on an unpublished 13-bar musical theme by Wagner, Bryars has woven a vivid and compelling piece that honours Wagner but stands musically on its own. It was played with great feeling by the string orchestra.

The Prelude and Liebestod, arranged by Wagner, is a concert version of the overture and Isolde’s aria, “Mild und leise” from the opera “Tristan und Isolde”. Under the baton of Roland Peelman, the large orchestra brought out all the drama and sensitivity in the music. Soprano, Louise Page, was outstanding in her performance of the Liebestod, acting it believably as well as singing it to perfection.

The Good Friday and the Grail Music from Act Three of Wagner’s opera, “Parsifal” was played by the huge orchestra, conducted by Roland Peelman. They were joined by three soloists, Glenn Winslade, Alexander Knight and Simon Lobelson, who were all in fine voice, as well as members of three Canberra choirs. The sound produced by this massive ensemble was awesome, emotionally charged, finely balanced and agrand finale to a memorable concert.



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