• Franz Waxman
  • Tristan and Isolde: Fantasie (for cello and piano) (1947)
    (based on themes from the opera of Richard Wagner)

  • Fidelio Music Publishing (World)

arr. for cello and piano by Patrick Russ

  • vc + pf
  • Cello
  • 11 min

Programme Note

Franz Waxman (1906–1967) “created” his “Tristan and Isolde” and “Carmen” Fantasies for the film Humoresque (Warner Brothers 1947) for John Garfield to “play” on screen to Isaac Stern’s recording on the soundtrack. The Joan Crawford - Oscar Levant melodrama had a screenplay by Clifford Odets based on the famous Fannie Hurst story about the budding career of a young New York violinist (Garfield) and his patron (Crawford). The Jerry Wald Production was directed by Jean Negulesco.

Heifetz saw the film and asked Waxman to expand the work for him to play on the popular radio program, The Bell Telephone Hour. The composer revised the score between August 13 and October 18, 1946.

Waxman’s Fantasie begins at the beginning of Act I Prelude; then, with the entry of the violin, leaps to the end of the act where Tristan and Isolde take the love potion. It then goes to the first scene of Act II before settling into that of the couple’s nocturnal tryst, “O sink Hernieder,” diverting into Tristan’s reminiscence from Act III and back again. Along the way, the Act II love duet merges with the opera’s concluding “Liebestod” which remains intact.

Waxman was exceptionally skilled in orchestration, and his ability to exploit every coloristic resource adds an extra measure of zest to this artful mingling of showpiece and synthesis — that, a fidelity to the essence of “Tristan” that could be expected only in such a sincere homage from one composer to another.

Recordings of the Tristan and Isolde: Fantasie include Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin, with the London Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton (Nonesuch); Chloë Hanslip, violin, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin (Naxos); Stephen Bryant, violin, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin (BBC Music); and Pip Clarke, violin, with Tavit Tashjian, piano.

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