The Ring, an orchestral adventure
(symphonic compilation, arranged by Henk de Vlieger, 1991)
The Ring of the Nibelung is not only the most ambitious but also the most imaginative project in the history of music. It is a story of love and romance, of lust for power and intrigue, and courage and self-sacrifice. At the same time, it is a story about the balance of nature and the disasters which will afflict the earth if greed should disturb this balance. In this sense, The Ring of the Nibelung can be discribed as a kind of protest theatre, an environmental opera ahead of its time. The composer, Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883), initially designed the libretto for a big heroic opera entitled Siegfried's Death. While he was working on this, however, he came to the conclusion that the story was so extensive that one opera would not be sufficient. The one opera became four: The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods. Together they make up the cycle The Ring of the Nibelung.
For the narrative of The Ring - the short name currently used for the cycle - Wagner drew mainly on the Icelandic Edda poems and the Burgundian Nibelungen saga. The protagonists from both cultures - Sigurd and Siegfried - were combined into one superhero. Scandinavian gods were given German names; and the story includes not only water-nymphs, dwarfs, giants, demi-gods, and a dragon but also real people. The literary quality of the libretti, which permit a wide variety of interpretations, has often been criticised. However, the story told in The Ring is expressed more in the music than in the text. It is through the overwhelmingly dramatic and visual power of the music that The Ring is continually able to excite whole new generations of listeners.
A characteristic feature of the musical style is the technique, developed by Wagner, of the leitmotifs: short musical phrases representing a person, object or idea. These leitmotifs play an important role as orientation points in The Ring's fifteen-hour-long ocean of sound and form an ingenious web in which the dramatic development is made audible.
This torrent contains an arrangment by Henk de Vlieger, percussionist in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. He selected the most important orchestral excerpts from the cycle and managed to link them together in such a way as to create an unified, single symphonic work. In this work, the main line of the story is recognisable, as in a symphonic poem. The musical connection which the excerpts have with each other, as a result of Wagner's leitmotif technique, is retained and with it at least a part of the original coherence. The choice of the various components and the manner in which they follow one another is mainly determined by the principle of 'exposition, development and recapitulation' of the most important themes and motifs. The excerpts have been taken over without alteration where possible; only sporadically has an essential vocal line been replaced by wind instruments. The transpositions between the excerpts were 'composed' again, with strict adherence to Wagner's idiom. Conductor Edo de Waart called the result An Orchestral Adventure, and that is precisely what it has become: Wagner's Ring, four operas, compressed into a fiery musical spectacle: a challenge for the orchestra, a real experience for the listener.
De Vlieger has arranged Wagners Parsifal (as Parsifal, an orchestral quest) and Wagners Tristan und Isolde (as Tristan & Isolda, an orchestral passion) in a similar manner should you have access to these recordings please post a torrentlink comment!