Berlin, 7 September 2016. Baltic Sea Philharmonic releases its first CD on 9 September, performing Wagner’s four-part opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung in an orchestral version that distils the musical highlights of the composer’s turbulent epic. It was recorded at Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, under the baton of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, and will be released on the Sony Classical label as part of the Kristjan Järvi Sound Project series.
Kristjan Järvi said: ‘The Wagner Ring Cycle without words is a symphonic voyage. It will be the first release of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and it’s one of my favourite compositions. Many people don’t know that Wagner spent time in the Baltic Sea region, for instance in Riga. He based his Ring Cycle on Nordic mythology and his time there. It’s well researched that if it hadn’t been for his fascination with creating a mythology based on Nordic legends in this sea-faring part of Northern Europe, none of it would have come into being.’
Wagner’s Ring Cycle consists of four operas – Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung – and lasts 16 hours, a marathon tale of gods and goddesses, heroes and mythical creatures, all centred around the magic ring of the title, which gives the wearer power to rule the world. Kristjan Järvi explains: ‘The story of the ‘Ring’ is a story of a true and universal order, as created through a connection to the earth and the sky that we are all inherently part of. A story of triumph of love that cannot be undermined by anyone or anything, no matter how hard the interference is; nature and universal harmony will prevail.’
Wagner’s Nordic connection
The music is rich and complex, full of passion and emotion. In this recording, the orchestra performs 14 selected highlights of the drama, including ‘Das Rheingold’, ‘Die Walküren’, ‘Waldweben’, ‘Siegfried’s Rheinfahrt’ and ‘Siegfried’s Tod’. As with previous releases in the Kristjan Järvi Sound Project, Kristjan Järvi’s aim, he explains, is ‘to make a connection between things, shed light on topics, tell a story, or simply provoke the question “Why?”’ In this new album he and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic explore Wagner’s own spiritual connection to the Nordic lands, made during his travels there. Presenting these selected highlights arranged for orchestra is also a way of putting his Ring Cycle into a context that is meaningful both for the players and audiences. Järvi says: ‘This meaningful association to the Baltic Sea and the lands that it connects leads me to contextualise the Ring within the spirit of what may have influenced Wagner to create the whole metaphoric idea of the Ring Cycle itself. To me this is and has always has been a specific and differentiating hallmark of all the Nordic people: an earthy way of being that is rooted in living in accordance to the laws of nature and shamanistic beliefs that shape a spirit of emotional innocence, purity, and honesty, which manifest in both darkness and light.’ The selected highlights from Wagner’s masterpiece explore all these facets.
The arrangements were made for orchestra by Dutch composer Henk de Vlieger, former percussionist and artistic advisor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, which commissioned him to create arrangements of Wagner operas at the request of its then chief conductor Edo de Waart.
The recording by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic was made at Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, on the Island of Usedom, which was a military production and test site during the war – the first space rocket was fired from there in 1942 – but now serves as a meeting place and cultural centre serving reconciliation and world peace, a major theme for Baltic Sea Philharmonic.
Baltic Sea Philharmonic – a new era in performance and presentation
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is a new force in music and culture. Taking the traditional orchestral model further than it’s gone before, the orchestra is becoming a whole social movement, with a vision for the Nordic region that encompasses the environment, culture and society. Kristjan Järvi explained: ‘The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is the one single Nordic cultural export that unifies all ten countries that surround the Baltic Sea. From Norway to Russia, whether they’re in the EU or not, whether they’re north or south – we’re all connected by this incredible body of water. And with this orchestra it is a new beginning in a unified Baltic region which finds its mission in the discovery and empowerment of self and this entrepreneurial and start-up mentality which has gripped the region, everything from fashion to technology. It’s all part of our culture. We’re discovering this.’
To download this press release, click here.