Barry Tuckwell, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Wagner, Wagner: Preludes and Overtures

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Wagner: Preludes and Overtures

Barry Tuckwell, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Wagner
“You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son.”

In the second part of Wagner's Ring cycle, "Die Walküre," the warrior maidens — the Valkyries — convey the fallen heroes to the home of the gods, Valhalla. It's a truly thrilling piece that, with its vigorous string lines and noble brass tune, has been borrowed for all sorts of uses. Possibly the most potent was in Apocalypse Now, where the helicopters fly in and strafe the jungle with napalm — a vision of wanton destruction that's a little way off from what its composer had in mind… What's so amazing about this piece is the economy — a simple, repeated figure overlaid with a big, powerful melody — with which Wagner achieves his effect: the sign of a true compositional genius. On this recording, the London Symphony Orchestra (a pedigree studio ensemble as well as one of the world's great orchestras) plays under its former Principal Horn, Barry Tuckwell — the brass need little encouragement to give off their best. Thrilling!