"Wagner Readings" and Concerto Köln with Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder"
On 16 May, the project which strives to research and perform the "Ring of the Nibelung" from a historically informed performance practice perspective continues to the next round. Concerto Köln and Kent Nagano immerse themselves further into Wagner's soundscapes with the "Wesendonck Lieder" and Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor. The featured vocal soloist for the song cycle will be mezzo-soprano, Sophie Harmsen. The concert is scheduled to take place in the Cologne Philharmonie on 16 May at 8 pm.
In this second concert within the scope of the "Wagner Readings" project, Concerto Köln and Kent Nagano draw progressively closer to Wagner's theatrical music by featuring the "Wesendonck Lieder" thereby adding a vocal component to the program. Wagner himself described the songs, "Im Treibhaus" (In the Greenhouse), and "Träume" (Dreams), as studies for his music drama, "Tristan und Isolde". He set the five "dilettante poems" of his beloved Mathilde Wesendonck to music as lieder with piano accompaniment, arranging only "Träume" for orchestra. After Wagner's death, Felix Mottl took over the orchestral arrangement of the entire cycle.
The program juxtaposes the "Wesendonck Lieder" with the third version of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor from 1891. Bruckner dedicates the so-called "Wagner Symphony" to "the Master, Richard Wagner, with the deepest reverence". The reference to Wagner is primarily biographical in nature.
Prior to the concerts, Concerto Köln and Kent Nagano jointly explore historically informed interpretations of the romantic works within a series of orchestral workshops. New academic insights into Wagner's ideas regarding his own musical work as well as research into the construction of instruments provide the basis for these workshops. Initial results of this collaborative exploration were already heard at the first "Wagner Readings" concert on 20 January of this year: the Bonn-based General Anzeiger praised the transparency, vividness and overall balance of the orchestral sound. With Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor and the "Wesendonck-Lieder", the project continues along this innovative path.
The academic-artistic project, "Wagner Readings", was launched in 2017 and endeavours to perform the entire "Ring of the Nibelung" cycle from 2021 onwards. Kent Nagano, Concerto Köln and researchers from various disciplines are responsible for the project. Support is provided primarily by the Kunststiftung NRW, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Strecker-Stiftung and MBL.