To mark the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra have released this hybrid SACD of orchestral excerpts from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. Such orchestral selections have been popular with concertgoers since Wagner's time, and they have served as much needed introductions to the much longer music dramas, which require a considerable time commitment and sitzfleisch from listeners. Even so, this program is fairly standard, opening with the Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger (which has been recorded so frequently, one might have wished for another option, say, the Prelude to Act III or the Dance of the Apprentices), and continuing through the Siegfried Idyll, Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey, Siegfried's Funeral March, and the Immolation Scene (featuring soprano Petra Lang). To the extent that Fischer and the Budapest musicians do justice to Wagner's music in these manageable portions, listeners can try this collection before gorging on the main courses of the music dramas, which is highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson