Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Richard Wagner - Prelude and Liebestod (Tristan and Isolde) for Chamber Orchestra

Richard Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde was revolutionary in its use of chromatic harmony, orchestration as well as its unique dramatic content. Wagner himself conducted the Prelude and Liebestod in concert, which comprises the opening and closing music of the opera. The Prelude opens with a yearning cello line followed by the famous 'Tristan' chord, unresolved but hanging poised to explore new harmonic ground. This leads into a romantic and highly emotional orchestral piece that matches the psychological tension of the opera. After fading away into the gloomy depths, the Liebestod emerges with glowing harmony. Here, Isolde sings over Tristan's lifeless body, becoming ever more passionate until sinking down to join him in love/death. This is a reduction for chamber orchestra of Wagner's large score, preserving many of the different timbres and details of the original. It may be performed with or without the soprano singing Isolde's Liebestod.

Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, timpani, harp, violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, double bass (minimum strings 2, 2, 2, 2, 1)

Available to hire or purchase from Aria Editions here

Listen to live performances of the arrangement here:

Prelude (10’11”)

Isolde’s Liebestod (8’10”)