Dawn and Siedgried’s Rhine Jouney from Götterdämmerung conveyed love, fire, water, and darkness. The highly embarrassing horn flubs in the exposed opening were made up for by wandering high-Romantic cello lines that one never wanted to end. The Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde featured constant modulations and multiple climaxes of the piercing upward motif. Soprano Elizabeth Connell's rich voice did not quite consistently soar above the orchestra, leading the orchestra to muzzle their volume and intensity when it was most needed. Wagner’s dragging out of harmonic changes by roving between keys and to fascinating aural territory makes for an ethereal listening experience. However, when large structural harmonic changes do take place, Fischer always made a point of making them known to both orchestra and audience. For example, near the end of the Liebestod, Wagner spends minutes in dominant-function (V) harmonic territory, which the listener may contextualize as dominant only when it later resolves to the Tonic (I) in the coda. For any listeners out there hesitant about Liszt, he uses the same out-of-key small picture, basic harmony big-picture techniques.
Anne Midgette, NSO's Wagner: Operatic Treasures Minus the Emotion (Washington Post, October 31)
This concert repeats this evening and tomorrow night (October 31 and November 1, 8 pm), in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.