Wagner: Rienzi - Mitchinson, Haywood, McDonnall, Langdon, Herincx, Ward; Downes. London, 1976

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Although Rienzi is not quite up to the artistic level of Wagners' "mature works", the piece has many memorable moments and an overall energetic, youthful drive to it that reminds me of early Verdi. Similar to Verdis' early works, there is also a strong patriotic component which make for some stirring choruses and ensembles as well as some beautiful arias, in addition to the famous "Prayer", including Adriano's "Gerechter Gott…" (see clip below.) This cast of mostly Brits does an excellent job pulling off the performance. At nearly four hours of music, this is likely one of the most complete Rienzis available (it even included ensembles not in the vocal score I was following.) In the theater this work would most certainly need to be cut, but with the luxury of being able to advance to the next track, this recording is a very interesting window into Wagner's early composition technique. John Mitchinson brings a burly tone and solid technique to the title role. Lorna Haywood is a stand-out as Adriano. The purity of her voice gives her credibility in a pants role and her lush voice serves her well during the dramatic moments of a character that can be considered a proto-Elsa of sorts. Edward Downes leads a performance that favors broad tempi without shortchanging the energetic and rousing ensembles. The sound is very good.

OD 10915-4

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