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Dip Your Ears, No. 175 (Janowski’s Lohengrin)

available at Amazon
R.Wagner, Lohengrin
M.Janowski / Berlin RSO & Chorus / G.Groissböck, K.F.Vogt, A.Dasch, S.Resmark, G.Grochowski et al.

I’ll Have My Swan Medium-Fast

Conductor Marek Janowski is regarded more for competence and diligence than excitement and spectacular moments and not all his many recent recordings are equally successful. We’re not talking Peter Schneider solid-bland-boring, but not exactly Thielemann-splendor, either. But the ambitious project of recording all major Wagner operas (live) for Pentatone on SACDs with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and the finest crop of current Wagner singers are shaping up very nicely, indeed.

Franz-Josef Selig, who was Janowski’s Gurnemanz on the Parsifal recording, described the veteran conductor’s approach thus: “Janowski… listens to the whole thing to get an idea of where everyone’s at and then he tells you what has to be changed. The rhythm here, or something stronger or softer there, and all the while he has the grand arch in mind… a view of the whole. That’s very fluid and perhaps a bit too fast for some. And there was once a concert performance of the Good Friday music under him where I thought ‘why can’t you give me a bit more time’. But on the recording everything is very organic and nothing ever seems too fast.”

His Parsifal, gorgeous though lacking a little profundity, is breezy. Lohengrin’s swan doesn’t swim too swiftly, though, and Janowski gets wonderful performances from his singers led by Anette Dasch (Elsa) and Klaus Florian Vogt (Lohengrin). If you can like Vogt’s chorister-tenor-timbre, he’s the foremost Lohengrin of our time; perfect for this introverted role and never in need of shouting. Susanne Resmark makes for wonderful, seductively sordid Ortrud: no wonder Gerd Grochowski follows her willingly to his own doom. The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra—and in this opera especially the Radio Chorus Berlin—contribute very much to these recordings being as beguiling as they are. Janowski and the singers get credit for moments of utmost delicacy and graceful singularity. 


Anonymous said...

Vogt has no soloist-voice for Lohengrin, sorry. Just listen to James King on recordings.

jfl said...

Well, I think that's rubbish.

Bayreuth 2012: Lohengrin, a Rat’s Tale About Humanity

Klaus Florian Vogt's Splendor - Lohengrin on DVD

David said...

Seems like the best to leave this comment (if you ever see it!)

Your Mahler survey was extremely helpful to me, in ignoring a lot of critics and investing in Boulez's Mahler, which is my desert island set now.

We also seem to have similar tastes in Wagner - so I hereby make a proposal. I've noted you're sniffy about Simone Young, but I would like to recommend her Hamburg Ring, particularly the Rheingold.

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard it, as I think it's the best-sung Wagner recording to appear since the 90s. And overall for me the best Ring Cycle since Barenboim (actually the only acceptable one).