Fabio Luisi / Philharmonia Zurich

Wagner: Preludes and Interludes

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A solid collection of the best-known orchestral excerpts from the music dramas of Richard Wagner, Fabio Luisi's double CD with the Philharmonia Zürich covers most of the preludes, overtures, and instrumental interludes that lead a second existence in the concert hall. The absence of anything from Siegfried and Der fliegende Holländer is noticeable, but when the breadth of the program is considered, perhaps the concert favorites from those operas won't be missed too much. While the first CD presents music from the mature masterpieces -- Parsifal, Götterdämmerung, Die Walküre, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Tristan und Isolde -- the second disc extends back to Wagner's early years and offers not only the Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin and the Overture to Tannhäuser, but also the overtures to Rienzi, Das Liebesverbot, and Die Feen, which are seldom included in similar greatest-hits compilations. Even so, the most significant music is served up front, and though they may not rank as the most compelling or best-sounding recordings, the performances are enjoyable for their high energy, confident playing, and big-hearted expression.

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