Wagner and Verdi’s compositions contain no less than a wealth of sonorous effluence affecting the ears with parabolic outbursts which in any other context could be considered excessive. Yet here at Heinz Hall the horns, sounding deeply, bursting forth with resonant orotund retorts, generate only the most profound resonance beyond the articulate orchestral phrases, evoking an emotional feeling like no other. I came here this evening to enjoy the Wagner, and I was swept away not only with his beautiful compositions, but with the Verdi as well. The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh along with soprano Simona Šaturová and baritone Gregg Baker were the icing on top of the cake.
One thing of particular interest: I noticed four extra horns, looking somewhat like French Horns, yet slightly larger, inverted and facing upwards. After a brief internet search, I discovered that these are likely called the Wagner Tuba (also referred to as the Bayreuth tuba). There were also 4 extra violas, and for several of the scores, a set of four or five additional trumpet players were arrayed in the balconies on either side, producing the most marvelous effect. Some of these trumpets were very long and produced a different sound indeed. Conductor Manfred Honeck seemed to be in his prime, happily ready and able to conduct one of the premier events of the season.
“Das Ring des Nibelungen, Wagner’s epic opera cycle, is the first composition which included the Wagner tuba and was premiered at The Bayreuth Festspielhaus (Bayreuth Festival Theatre) in 1876.”