Review: Wagner Lord of the Ring,St David's Hall, Cardiff
IT'S hard to believe that, despite being released 25 years ago, this was the first public performance of Lorin Maazel's ambitious Ring Without Words anywhere in the UK.
In a nutshell, the concept was to take Richard Wagner's monumental, but somewhat lengthy, 16-hour long Ring Cycle, and to reduce it into a single, more palatable, album length recording.
Opening with the prelude to Das Rheingold, for which the barely audible opening note was somewhat shortened, the orchestra launched into a series of 20 instrumental highlights which narrated the epic tale of gods, dwarves and dragons.
This included the literal use of hammers as the Nibelungs worked their anvils; the well-known strains of the Valkyries taking flight; before ending with the climatic rebirth of the world in the finale to Götterdammerung.
Finely balancing the vigour and elegance of the compositions, this was a rare, and at times exhilarating performance.
And most crucially for some, it was 15 hours shorter than the real thing…