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Editor’s Note:

This is a bumper issue, and also one with colour photographs! Apologies that it is slightly later than planned, but I wanted to include reports from Bayreuth and also our programme of speakers this winter season. Once again, thanks to our Secretary, we have a first class line up of speakers who will inform and also entertain us on things Wagnerian. I hope you can join us on ‘Zoom’. After considering the options, it was felt this would give the best opportunity for the maximum number of people to attend in these (post?) Covid days. The invitation links will be sent out later, but if you have any difficulty, please contact us. Using Zoom is not set in stone, but if our meeting format changes at a later date, we’ll keep you informed in good time.

My visit to Bayreuth in July was memorable as ever, not least because of the heatwave! With temperatures some days touching 40 Celsius, an evening in the Festspielhaus was a night to remember. I was fortunate to see two operas, but I won’t repeat the insightful remarks of others above. Suffice to say that whether you loved or loathed a particular production (and I loved them), the whole experience
is unforgettable.

Future (and some past) events

The first concert of this year’s Lammermuir Festival included Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, in the beautiful surroundings of Holy Trinity Church, Haddington. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau.

Perhaps we’ll have more Wagner in next year’s programme of this superb Festival of ‘Beautiful Music in Beautiful Places’? Next September’s artist in residence will be Steven Osborne.

I had been looking forward to the Philadelphia Orchestra and EIF Chorus’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth (Choral) Symphony in the Usher Hall, part of the Edinburgh international Festival. This was a piece very close to Wagner’s heart, and is traditionally included in each year’s programme. At short notice, however, the Festival programme was changed due to the orchestra’s covid protocols, so instead we were treated to an uplifting performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with Rachmaninov’s ‘Isle of the Dead’, a hauntingly beautiful piece. As a surprise, the evening started with an unprogrammed performance of Dvořák’s thrilling Carnival Overture. Yannick Nézet-Séguin certainly brought out the best in the orchestra with his very animated style of conducting, but all without the EIF Chorus of course.

A great evening, but not the ‘Choral’!

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is giving a production of ‘Wagner’s ‘Twilight Of The Gods’ in Glasgow and Edinburgh in November. Arranged by the conductor Ryan Wigglesworth, and with soprano Katherine Broderick, it will be interesting to see their interpretation of Götterdämmerung.

THE SSO website describes it thus:
‘Get ready for a thrilling ride as we distil the final part of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ cycle into a single musical journey. The flickering light of dawn, the overwhelming passion of love, the ebb and flow of the majestic Rhine, a jawdropping funeral march, and the world consumed by fire and water: this is storytelling at its most dramatic. Chief Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth unleashes the full force of the orchestra in his own adaptation of this music and Katherine Broderick sings Brünnhilde’s triumphant closing scene.’ (Am I alone in thinking that programme notes sometimes use too many superlatives?) The programme also includes ‘Vers le silence’ by the SSO’s Composer-In-Association Hans Abrahamsen. It can be seen on Thursday 17th November at 7.30pm in Glasgow City Halls, and on Sunday 20th November at 3pm in
Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

David Graham
wssnews204@gmail.com