Monday, October 11, 2010

Sequentia perform the Rheingold from Edda

Edda - The Rheingold Curse, Cité de la Musique - Paris, September 24 2010

Benjamin Bagby ..... voice, lyre
Agnethe Christensen ..... voice (Brynhild), drum
Lena Susanne Norin ..... voice (Gudrun)
Elizabeth Gaver ..... fiddle
Norbert Rodenkirchen ..... flutes, lyre
Every Wagner fan would be intrigued by the title of this event, so I obviously couldn't let it pass without checking it out  [despite my chronic lack of time.] The concert took place in amphitheater of the Cité de la Musique in Paris and I can tell you it was special.

5 performers of the ensemble  Sequentia actually recounted the story that inspired Wagner in writing his Ring des Nibelungen by singing it in old Icelandic. The content is actually a collection of ancient Germanic legends about gold and greed, the stories which --for a very long time-- used to be transmitted orally from one generation to the next, until the arrival of Christianity and the trend to record the myths and legends in writing. And so the first written manuscript with these ancient legends dates from 13th century and is called Edda.

To put them into the music and keep it as authentic as possible and extra musicological research was needed. That part was done by Benjamin Bugby and his collaborators, so that finally his ensemble Sequentia could perform the whole thing in front of the crowd of people who mostly came out of sheer curiosity. We did not know what to expect, were almost reluctant during the first 10 minutes or so, but soon we've got completely absorbed in a passionate story that sounded familiar, performed in the most passionate way possible.

When I say familiar, I mean you indeed find a big part of the story we know from the Wagner's Ring, although some characters are suppressed, the others appear, and a few episodes are quite modified.  But the basic story of Rheingold  is there and it is very amusing to follow what you already know and be surprised every now and then by how the things change. The characters in the story are the dragon Fafnir, the dwarf Regin, Sigurdur (Siegfried), Brynhild (Brünnhilde) and the Valkyries and her rival Gudrun, the Hunns...

It's all about the voices but the two instruments accompany the story at the beginning, flute and lyre, and later on Elizabeth Gaver joins in with an old fiddle instrument and it's funny how that one single instrument adds a dramatic element to the story.  Towards the end of 60 minutes of this so peculiar concert you could feel the public 100% focused on the story, so that the last notes were followed by ~15 seconds of silence before the whole amphitheater exploded with Bravi!

If you ever see this event happening somewhere near you, do not miss it.
I understand there Sequentia recorded The Rheingold Curse on CD but it is hard to find. Only proposes it [reasonably priced].

Do you understand now better why I love Cité de la Musique?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much for the review! As a medievalist (and Wagner fan) I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for performances, and the CD. And yes, I think I can definitely understand love for a venue which gives such things a home. :)