WAGNER: PARSIFAL SUITE

CONSTRUCTED BY ANDREW GOURLAY

 
 

Hire Information

Instrumentation:
3.4(3+cor).4(3+bass).4(3+contra) - 4.3.3.1 - T+1(very deep field drum, bells*) - 2hp - str.

Duration: c. 45 minutes

Contact Ian Mylett at Schott Music for a score and hire information: ian.mylett@schott-music.com

*A sampler is available for hire for the Parsifal Bells, which is playable by the percussionist.  Ask Schott Music for details.


Programme note

 

Parsifal surely contains some of Wagner’s greatest orchestral writing, yet there is little orchestral-only material currently available for concert performance.  The opening prelude is a staple, often performed in combination with the Good Friday Music, but I know of no suite of a significantly longer duration that has been produced to my liking.

 

I therefore set about constructing an orchestral suite that would give us more time to settle into the music of Parsifal.  The result is 45 minutes of continuous music from the opera.

 

From the opening prelude, we move to the grandeur of Act 3 Scene 1, the Good Friday Music, during which Parsifal is anointed King of the Grail. A solo oboe guides us through the following passage for gentle strings and woodwinds, accompanying Parsifal as he admires the beauty of the woods and meadow, which are glowing in the morning light. The sound of midday bells begins Wagner’s own transition to Scene 2, as the forest scene dramatically transforms into the mighty hall of the castle of the Grail.  The knights process in from both sides, carrying the wounded Amfortas and the coffin of Titurel.  We move to the Act 3 prelude, followed by the prelude to Act 2, “Klingsor’s Magic Castle”.  Next, the scene change from Act 1, in which Gurnemanz leads Parsifal through the rocky walls and (as in Act 3) the forest magically transforms into the great hall of the Grail.  We return to Act 3 for a brief bridge passage (for timpani, hushed brass, and pizzicato strings), which accompanies the ominous figure of Parsifal as he emerges from the forest fully covered in black armour.  This passage navigates us to the final scene, and the opera’s natural conclusion. Parsifal holds aloft his holy spear, with which he has healed Amfortas.  He takes the Grail, which glows brighter and brighter, and swings it in blessing.  “Miracle of supreme salvation!"

 

This project has been a labour of love, and I sincerely hope that it might be a useful addition to the orchestral repertoire.  

A.G.