Neeme Järvi

Wagner: The Ring - An Orchestral Adventure

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Though the work is essentially an arrangement of Wagner's original, this 2008 recording of Henk de Vlieger's The Ring, an orchestral adventure with Neeme Järvi leading the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can't be expected to compete with Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen on its own terms. Also, because it is a continuous orchestral précis of Der Ring with the vocal parts rescored for orchestra, it also doesn't compete with more usual offereings of orchestral excerpts from the gargantuan tetrology.

Vlieger's Ring's only real competition is from Lorin Maazel's Ring Without Words, his arrangement of Der Ring into a continuous orchestral précis that he recorded with the Berliner Philharmoniker back in 1990 for Telarc. And though the sound here by Chandos is splendid and the playing of the Scottish orchestra is superb, neither can beat Telarc at the peak of its game and the Berlin orchestra at the peak of its form. Järvi elicits a strong and colorful performance from the Scot's players and Vlieger's arrangement is a cogent and well-crafted series of episodes. But Maazel's virtuosity on the podium and the more convincing totality of his arrangement put his recording out of the reach of this one. If you're looking for one and only one orchestral précis of Wagner's Ring, make it Maazel's. If you're looking for two, check out Järvi's. It should be added that the inclusion of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll as an encore was inspired. The performance itself, while expertly executed, is a bit on the quick and cool side.

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