“Any production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle—even just a concert performance—is a mammoth undertaking for a major opera company or orchestra, never mind for Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire,” writes Jeffrey Gantz in Tuesday’s (4/5) Boston Globe. “An ‘Essential Ring’ is in a sense an even greater challenge, since Wagner’s four music dramas … are not easy to abridge. Nonetheless, Saturday at Cary Hall, the combined orchestras, under their music director, Jonathan McPhee (who is also music director at Boston Ballet), delivered a stirring Part I of the project. (Part II is scheduled for this fall.) This is not the orchestras’ first ambitious undertaking—in 2010, McPhee led them in Mahler’s gigantic Eighth Symphony…. McPhee’s Part I covered the material of the first two dramas, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, boiling their six and a quarter hours down to 140 minutes.… All the same, at Cary Hall you got outstanding Wagner…. The orchestra was bright and vivid throughout, and McPhee offered an intensely dramatic reading of the score, with huge climaxes…. The singers matched McPhee in characterization and emotion.… You could hardly ask for a better Ring, just more of it.”

Posted April 7, 2016