“The Norfolk-born bass-baritone’s voice, on this showing, is close to ideal – chocolate-dark and rich in tone, with a deceptive effortlessness and security that shows up many more famous exponents.” BBC Music Magazine
From pillars of society to shunned outcasts, the baritone and bass-baritone roles in Richard Wagner’s operas span from Hans Sachs, shoemaker/poet and Nuremberg’s voice-of-reason, to the Flying Dutchman, tortured forever by past sins. Whether their function in the over-all drama is as a foil to the main character – like the knight Wolfram von Eschenbach, Tannhäuser’s eternally loyal supporter – or, like Wotan in the Ring, as a linchpin of the entire dramatic argument, they are all memorable as individuals, and have as such been endowed by their creator with music of great individuality and expressivity. Following his acclaimed recital of English songs, Most Grand to Die (BIS-1610), James Rutherford now gives us a grand tour of Wagner-land, ranging from the three operas that ‘made’ Wagner – Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin – to Parsifal, the composer’s final work, described by himself as ‘the last card’ he had to play. Winner of the first Seattle Opera International Wagner competition in 2006, Rutherford has since performed in a number of Wagner productions, and is something of the Hans Sachs of our day, having sung the part at the Bayreuth Festival (in 2010 and 2011), as well as at the Wiener Staatsoper, the Graz, Hamburg and Cologne Operas, the Budapest Wagner Festival and at the Glyndebourne Festival. He here receives the support of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under their music director Andrew Litton, himself a regular guest conductor at leading opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera Covent Garden and Deutsche Oper Berlin.