"Wagner Readings" with Sophie Harmsen transform Romantic music listening habits
In the second “Wagner Readings” concert, Kent Nagano and Concerto Köln continued to delve even deeper into Richard Wagner's soundscapes. With Anton Bruckner's Third Symphony, the so-called “Wagner Symphony”, and Wagner's “Wesendonck Lieder”, the realm directly surrounding his Romantic musical dramas was already reached in the almost sold-out Cologne Philharmonie.
Despite being instrumentally reinforced to the size of a symphony orchestra with eight double basses, a transparent sound was achieved nonetheless through a historically informed approach and instruments from the Wagner era. In the “Wesendonck Lieder”, “the fusion of voice and orchestral sound worked beautifully”, concluded the Kölnische Rundschau, adding: the “mezzo-soprano Sophie Harmsen sang the Lieder with a wonderfully supple and expressive voice”. In the interpretation of Bruckner's Symphony, dedicated to “The Master, Richard Wagner, in deepest respect”, a new, unfamiliar sound emerged “the surface of which did not have a high polish shine” but rather “shone with a slightly rougher finish”.
In October 2019, Kent Nagano and Concerto Köln will take the next step towards Wagner's “Ring” which they will jointly present in 2021: in addition to the Overture and Bacchanale from “Tannhäuser”, the academic-artistic project will newly explore works by Debussy and Offenbach.
Photos © Concerto Köln