Wagner: Flying Dutchman Overture

This piece has a very decisive opening – tremolo in the strings and the brass section announcing the start of the opera with a IV-I-V sequence.  There are then lots of dramatic chromatic scale passages which sound like the whirlwind of a tempest, gradually dying down.  Then we have the opening statement again, but much quieter this time, with the accompaniment of very soft timpani.

I like this introduction, it builds up the suspense well and is clearly very effective at what it is supposed to convey as I read after writing the above paragraph that Act 1 of the opera tells of a sailor battling in stormy weather!

After a short silence the woodwind and brass play a more subdued and peaceful section, starting in a major key and transitioning into minor.  Then the dramatic fast scale passages in the strings are back again.  The opening IV-I-V sequence is a recurring theme throughout the piece, and dramatic passages are interspersed with hints of the major melody in the brass and woodwind.  I must admit I lost concentration somewhere in the middle – I think the rapid changes and constant build up actually end up being a bit repetitive and exhausting to listen to.


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