This transcription is geared to the forces available in a mid-size orchestra. In the course of arranging the work, the Klangfarben of the orchestra were expanded and “modernised” by greater differentiation within the historically given spectrum and by introducing new instruments. I strove both to expand and condense the sound, especially since I of course kept the instruments typical of the Ring (Wagner tuba, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, etc.); the newly introduced ones (alto flute, heckelphone, contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon and cimbasso, the latter as a link between tubas and trombones) become especially significant as additional dramatic-psychological sonic elements.
A remark on the orthography: the notation of some transposing instruments in Wagner’s Rheingold – horns, Wagner tubas, trumpets and bass trumpet – is evidently still in the experimental stage. Wagner notated these instruments inconsistently, using regular key signatures in some sections and omitting them in others, placing accidentals before individual notes as required. The full score of this transcription retains that idiosyncrasy, since the possibility that that notation also has a certain symbolic character cannot be ruled out.
For example, Wagner uses key signatures in the context of Valhalla, as if, perhaps, the “innocence” of the natural instruments had been lost through Alberich’s curse; the instruments are “grounded” by the key signatures. In the final tableau of Scene 4, all the instruments take the protective cover, as it were, of the apotheosis in E-flat major (with key signatures). However, they are dispensed with in the introduction (primeval Nature scene), in which the transposing instruments, in their original form, symbolise the “sound of Nature.”
The cast of Rheingold
Specifying the Fach of the voices was dispensed with since this arrangement of the work can also be performed by lighter voices, not only the traditional high-dramatic ones:
Woglinde (Freia)*: soprano
Freia (Woglinde)*: soprano
Froh (Mime)*: tenor
Donner (Fasolt)*: baritone
Mime (Froh)*: tenor
Fasolt (Donner)*: baritone
* These roles can be played by one performer, if necessary.
The onstage music (audio) for Wagner’s Rheingold is available on hire from the publisher.
Orchestra: 54 players
Translation by Grant Chorley