Wagner: Marches & Overtures / Kojian, Hong Kong Po

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Varujan Kojian and the Hong Kong Philharmonic made these recordings of Wagnerian rarities as long ago as January 1983, but the performances (originally issued on the Marco Polo label in 1987) still have much to commend them. In fact, only one of these works appears elsewhere; that's the Imperial March of 1871, also to be found on an EMI disc in which Caspar Richter leads the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Kojian, who made some memorable recordings as music director of the Utah Symphony (where he succeeded Abravanel), secures excellent playing throughout from the very able Hong Kong orchestra. Note the richly-saturated string tone at the start of the Polonia overture for example, and the virtuoso handling of the dance fragments later on.

Wagner's American Centennial March, commissioned by the city of Philadelphia in 1876, was contemporaneous with Parsifal, but any similarity ends there. The performance under Kojian is a stirring one, and this strongly Teutonic (manifestly not "American"!) work is nothing if not masterfully orchestrated. Rule Britannia, an overture composed in 1836, inevitably draws at some length on Thomas Arne's familiar tune, but its development along lines that prefigure the famous counterpoint of the Meistersinger prelude is fascinating to hear, and the piece is very well played. Lastly, there's the Imperial March, written to mark the 1871 enthronement of Wilhelm of Prussia. It's a thrillingly grandiloquent piece of Wagnerian ceremony, and like the other works collected here, effectively played by the Hong Kong Philharmonic. An essential disc for all Wagnerians--and the reissued 1983 recording now sounds a degree fresher and brighter than my copy of the first Marco Polo release.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8555386

  • UPC: 747313538621

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Richard Wagner

  • Conductor: Varujan Kojian

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra