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Playing: Fantasy for piano in C 'Wandererfantasie' (D.760) by Franz Peter Schubert
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The passage of time has not been kind to Giacomo Meyerbeer. The most successful opera composer of his day, whose transformation of the medium helped to set the stage for Wagner, Verdi, Mussorgsky and a host of others, his work is now seldom performed. All this week, Donald Macleod explores the life and rediscovers the work of this king of Grand Opera, in conversation with one of the composer's leading advocates, Robert Letellier.

Thirteen years separate Meyerbeer's second French opera, Les Huguenots, from his third, Le prophète, whose appearance suffered a protracted delay due to a serious disagreement over casting. Meyerbeer certainly wasn't one to sit around doing nothing, though, and today's programme examines how he occupied himself during this hiatus - with a particular focus on his output of songs, many of which were mini-dramas. In 1842, Meyerbeer was appointed Generalmusikdirektor of Prussia, in which role he wrote a German-language opera, Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (for the opening of the new Berlin Opera, after the old one had burnt down), as well as music for official court occasions, like his sequence of Fackeltänze - torch marches. It was Meyerbeer's advocacy at this time that secured Wagner the Dresden premières of his operas Rienzi and The Flying Dutchman - a favour Wagner was to return a few years later with a series of blisteringly personal anti-Semitic attacks.

Der Garten des Herzens (1839)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Karl Engel (piano)
DG 00289 477 5270 CD 8 tk 5

Sequence of songs
- Komm, du schönes Fischermädschen (1837)
- La fille de l'air (1837)
- Mina (?1837)
- Sicilienne (?1845)
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)
Melvyn Tan (fortepiano)
ARCHIV 469 074-2 tks 2, 4, 1, 5

Fackeltänz (Torch Dance) no.1 in B flat (1844)
North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hanover
Michail Jurowski (conductor)
CPO 999 168-2 tk 4

Sequence of songs
- Menschenfeindlich (1837)
- Scirocco (1837)
- Ständchen (1840)
- Sie und Ich (1835)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Karl Engel (piano)
DG 00289 477 5270 CD 8 tks 1, 13, 7, 10

Struensee (1846) - overture
North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hanover
Michail Jurowski (conductor)
CPO 999 336-2 tk 1

Producer: Chris Barstow.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 1 May 2013 18:30

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