Richard Wagner began composing his Wesendonck Lieder during a stay in Zurich between November and December 1857. Originally conceived for female voice and piano alone, the five songs were later orchestrated, first by the Austrian conductor and composer Felix Mottl in 1893, and then later in 1976 by the German composer Hans Werner Henze, in a chamber setting. In fact Wagner had already orchestrated a version of "Träume” to be performed by chamber orchestra (with violin playing the voice part) on the occasion of his wife Minna’s birthday in 1857. Later, in 1870, for his second wife Cosima’s 33rd birthday, he enacted a similar gesture. Mixing new motifs with themes from his Ring cycle, he composed the Siegfried Idyll and had it performed by a small orchestra as a birthday surprise.
Hanz Werner Henze’s orchestration of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder highlights the relationship between the words and the sounds. The agile yet intense scoring for ten wind instruments, harp and small string ensemble appears to be Henze’s way of finding an alternative to the original piano without taking the cycle outside the realm of chamber music or altering the lieder’s original image.
Siegfried and Brünnhilde sing from the depths of their hearts returns here with the grace of a child’s nursery.
Salvatore Sciarrino’s Languire a Palermo (Languishing in Palermo), composed in 2018, is predominantly built around the melody Tempo di Porazzi, a fragment composed by Wagner during a visit to Sicily in late 1881 and early 1882.
Sciarrino describes the ‘allure of a distant unaccompanied melody, played by someone for their own benefit and entrusted to the wind’ and hypothesises that it may correspond ‘to the sounds in Sicily that stimulate and amaze the ears...Mediterranean charm gushes from the throat of every street vendor.’
· Recorded in January & February 2021, at the Teatro Verdi, Padua, Italy
· The bilingual booklet contains liner notes by Prof. Daniele Spini in English and Italian, as well as a biographies of the conductor and orchestra
· A fascinating program: Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder in the orchestration by Henze and on Italian text, the Siegfried Idyll, Träume for violin and small orchestra and “Languire a Palermo” by Sciarrino.
· Wagner wrote 5 songs for Mathilde von Wesendonck, with whom he had a passionate love affair, and who was the wife of his benefactor. With his orchestration, Hanz Werner Henze emphasizes the relationship between word and sound. In his agile and intense orchestration for ten winds, harp and a small string group, Henze seems to seek an alternative to the original piano, keeping the cycle in the realm of chamber music. The Italian translation is by the famous poet Arrigo Boito.
· Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll was written for and first performed on the birthday of his wife Cosima, a testimony of his love for this daughter of Franz Liszt. “Träume” is the arrangement for violin and small orchestra of one of the Wesendonck Lieder.
· Languire a Palermo by Salvatore Sciarrino is built mainly on the melody Tempo di Porazzi, a melody Wagner sketched in 1882 while visiting Palermo. Sciarrino himself speaks of the "fascination of a distant melody, without accompaniment, of one who plays for himself and relies on the wind", and hypothesizes that it corresponds "to the sonic stimuli that in Sicily amaze the ear [...]. In the throat of every street vendor springs the Mediterranean enchantment [...]. What ornamentation did those voices flourish in Wagner's years? Come and hear if the echo of the Sirens remained in the wind". The fragments of the melody Tempo di Porazzi gradually take on different instrumental colors.
· The Wesendonck Lieder are sung by the famous Italian alto Sara Mingardo, Träume is played by violinist Massimo Quarta and the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto is directed by Marco Angius.