Très actif à la tête des orchestres allemands de 1980 au milieu des années 90, le chef japonais Hiroshi Wakasugi n’a pourtant pas engrangé une discographie très étendue, ce qui rend cette réédition Berlin Classic d’autant plus intéressante. Voici donc un bouquet d’ouvertures tirées des opéras du premier Wagner. Comme on pouvait s’en douter, c’est la splendeur sonore de la Staatskapelle de Dresde, et en particulier ses cuivres, qui fascinent en premier lieu, à une époque où les orchestres étaient encore reconnaissables d’un rapide coup d’oreille. Mais le chef ne tire pas tout le parti dramatique qu’il pourrait d’un si exceptionnel instrument. L’ouverture du Vaisseau Fantôme passe sans rien annoncer des affres du Hollandais. Prises dans des tempos un peu trop retenus, l’ouverture de Tannhäuser paraît trop sage, celle de Rienzi subit de surprenantes baisses de tension. Deux préludes issus de Lohengrin concluent ce disque. On se délecte des cordes de la Staatskapelle dans le I, le III restant inratable. Un chef qui dut être adoré des orchestres pour son solide métier, mais quelle place pour cette anthologie face à Klemperer (monumental), ou Furtwängler (démiurgique). Du très beau son, mais hélas pas de théâtre. (Olivier Gutierrez)
Fired with enthusiasm, the twenty-year-old Richard Wagner embarked on the composition of his opera Die Feen (the fairies), based on a play by Carlo Gozzi, and completed it as early as 1834. No-one wanted it, though. He did at least manage to premiere Das Liebesverbot (the ban on love), an excellently conceived comic opera based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, at the Magdeburg Municipal Theatre on March 29, 1836. However, the second performance had to be cancelled after a fistfight broke out backstage before the curtain had even risen. Incidentally, this scuffle had been triggered by a private conflict among the cast and certainly had nothing to do with the quality of the new opera! Fortunately, no major loss was incurred as only three people had turned up to watch this performance. Anyone less was general music director of the Berlin State Opera on Unter den Linden from 1974 until 1991 and thus directed the Berlin Staatskapelle at the same time. “He was very relaxed, not over-focussed – a fantastic conductor, always at ease and enthusiastic. These songs needed an orchestra that produces pure expression”, said singer Siegfried Lorenz about the recording of the “Wunderhorn” lieder with Otmar Suitner. The longtime violinist of the Berlin Staatskapelle, Lothar Friedrich, adds regarding the Fifth Symphony: “When I listen to the recording now, I feel vindicated. Suitner struck an excellent balance between his emotional side on the one hand and his intellectual approach on the other.” An Austrian conducted Mahler in the GDR. An uncommon combination at the highest artistic level. enterprising might well have given up, but Wagner knew that by playing his cards right he would eventually become a reputable composer of opera. He was a true explorer who transcended musical worlds: born in New York, he studied in Tokyo and after graduating was engaged at the famous NHK Symphony Orchestra. He made guest appearances with the Dresden Staatskapelle from 1982 until 1991. It was during this particularly happy period of his life that the recordings presented here were made. Back then the critics commented that the Staatskapelle’s powerful brass in the Tannhäuser overture made a brilliant sound last heard under Fritz Busch back in 1932. Richard Wagner’s self-appointed “Wunderharfe” (miraculous harp) at its best. Wagner’s Overtures & Preludes to “The Flying Dutchman”, “Tannhäuser”, “Rienzi” & “Lohengrin” (Act 1 & 3).