Philharmonia Orchestra / Yuri Simonov

Wagner: Orchestral Favourites

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Yuri Simonov and the Philharmonia Orchestra are good names to look for, if ever a sonic spectacular is needed. These dynamic musicians know how to put on a musical tour de force, and their 1991 presentation of orchestral excerpts from the music dramas of Richard Wagner is a brilliant display of their exceptional capabilities. When Wagner's music is lush, resonant, and rich, the orchestra produces a lustrous and full-bodied ensemble blend that makes it seem like aural velvet, so smooth and deep are the sonorities in the Prelude to Parsifal and the Prelude and "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde. But when high adventure and sharp attacks are called for, as in the "Ride of the Valkyries" or "Siegfried's Rhine Journey" the players are energetic and powerful, delivering the maximum amount of excitement possible in these vibrant concert extracts. The dynamic range of this recording is extremely wide, as can be discerned from the extremely soft opening of "Forest Murmurs" and the explosive volume at the climax of "Siegfried's Funeral Music." Alto's all-digital reproduction is extraordinary, for the separation of tone colors and crisp details of this compilation are comparable to the quality of many later super-audio recordings.

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