Seeing the title Ludwig on a soundtrack album, one might expect that it would contain classical music, and it does. But the Ludwig in question is not Ludwig van Beethoven, it's Ludwig II, who became king of Bavaria in 1864 and emperor of Prussia in 1871. Ludwig was more interested in building castles and sponsoring the composer Richard Wagner than in fighting wars, which got him the nickname "Mad King" and led to his downfall. Director Luchino Visconti's film naturally uses plenty of Wagner's music, though often in adapted form. The excerpts from Tannhäuser and Tristan und Isolde have been transcribed by pianist/conductor Franco Mannino to be played as instrumentals only, the latter in versions both for orchestra and for solo piano. Mannino also contributes piano performances of Jacques Offenbach's La Perichole overture and Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen, Op. 15. It's melancholy music for a melancholy subject.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann