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David Dalle
Thursday October 6th, 2016 with David Dalle
A Wagnerian afternoon with endless longing, infinite desire. Celebrating Steve Reich's 80th birthday.

The Metropolitan Opera’s season opens with a new production of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”. The Met’s ‘Live in HD’ global broadcast will also open at cinemas this Saturday afternoon (with a repeat broadcast in November). This is a wonderful opportunity for people to experience the highest quality live opera. Composed in 1859, “Tristan und Isolde” was one of the most ground-breaking and revolutionary operas of the 19th century, and yet uses a century’s old story of doomed star-crossed lovers-a common theme in many oral and literary cultures around the world. One unusual aspect of Wagner’s treatment of the 12th century tale of “Tristan und Isolde” (with older Celtic roots) is the overwhelming influence of the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, particularly his treatise “The World as Will and Representation”. Wagner was introduced to, and became obsessed with, this treatise during the 1850’s. It strongly influenced the text and music of all his subsequent operas and was particularly dominant in “Tristan und Isolde”. The importance of Schopenhauer to the text surely confused many in the audience familiar with the “Romeo and Juliet”-type plot, but perhaps would not confuse a Buddhist. Two key ideas of Schopenhauer are: firstly that life is driven by insatiable desire which leads to suffering (the Will), and only by denial of this will and freeing oneself from desire can one find peace; and secondly that the fundamental reality of the world (where everything is one) can never be directly perceived, as humans can only sense an inaccurate representation of reality through our minds. In Wagner’s opera, Tristan and Isolde end up personifying this endless desire through their obsessive love for each other, yet their most earnest wish is to be free from this love and find peaceful union in the fundamental reality. In Wagner’s story, the “reality” of our suffering Will is represented by day and fundamental reality is represented by night, and can only be truly reached through death (which, as I understand it, is not quite in agreement with Schopenhauer, who promoted the idea of the denial of the Will as the goal, and not death-he was strongly against suicide.). These complicated philosophical ideas are not just important to the text of the opera, but find manifestation in the music. Most striking and important about “Tristan und Isolde” is Wagner’s revolutionary use of chromaticism which appears immediately at the start of the famous Prelude. Very unstable harmonies build extremely strong desire for resolution, but the resolution is delayed and interrupted. Several times there is a very powerful cadential sequence which is interrupted, most famously at the end of the lover’s half-hour duet in the 2nd act when they are interrupted by Tristan’s King and Isolde’s husband. This unresolved chromaticism, along with the endless flowing of Wagner’s music, evokes endless, infinite desire. This is not resolved until four hours after the prelude, in Isolde’s final Liebestod (some of the most stunning, rapturously beautiful music), as Isolde dies and finds true union with Tristan. We cannot hear the entire opera today of course, but we will hear the journey from the Prelude to the Liebestod, along with other music evoking longing, including music inspired by other tales similar to the “Tristan und Isolde” tale, particularly the Persian story “Layla and Majnun”. We will also hear music from Steve Reich as he celebrated his 80th birthday on Monday.
Act I, Prelude
Richard Wagner/Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Karl Bohm - Tristan und Isolde - Deutsche Grammophon
Da Vida Quero Os Sinais
Misia - Garras Dos Sentidos - Erato
Astor Piazzolla/Gidon Kremer, Vadim Sakharov, Alois Posch, Per Arne Glorvigen - Hommage a Piazzolla - Nonesuch
Am stillen Herd in Winterszeit
Richard Wagner arr. Franz Liszt/Steven Mayer - Complete Piano Music vol. 33 - Naxos
Act III, Prelude
Richard Wagner/Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Karl Bohm - Tristan und Isolde - Duetsche Grammophon
Shirvan Shikastese
Alim Qasimov - Love's Deep Ocean - Network
Gol Va Khak
Ali Akbar Moradi - The Ritual Maqam of the Yarsan - Inedit
Richard Wagner/Birgit Nilsson, Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Karl Bohm - Tristan und Isolde - Deutsche Grammophon
Desert Music
Steve Reich/The Schoenberg Ensemble, Slagwerkgroep Den Haag, the BBC Singers, Reinbert de Leeuw - Holland Festival - Dutch Television
Interactive CKCU
Just tuning back in... Happy birthday, Steve. ;^)

3:16 PM, October 6th, 2016
WOW! Not often one gets to hear looooong Steve Reich pieces in one big juicy go. I am (was) not familiar with this particular version. Thanks David.

4:01 PM, October 6th, 2016
David Dalle (host)
Yeah it's really good!

4:02 PM, October 6th, 2016