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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Authentic sound for Wagner's Ring
Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle calls his version "lyrical and flexible"
Conductor Sir Simon Rattle has led the first-ever modern performance of Wagner's Ring cycle, featuring the instruments the piece was written for.

The German composer wrote the piece with specific instruments in mind - including oboes with fewer keys and tubas made specially for The Ring.

Sir Simon is unveiled his new version at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on Thursday evening.

Das Rheingold, the first part of the Wagner's Ring Cycle, debuted in 1876.

Some of the instruments were built specially for Thursday evening's performance, which will be conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

Oboe player Dick Earle, of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, had to make his instrument himself.

Roger Montgomery with the tuba
The tubas were specially made for Wagner's music
"It's difficult to find instruments from that time which are good enough to play on," he explained.

Tuba player Roger Montgomery found getting to know his instrument was a challenge.

"It takes a little bit of getting used to, and when there are four of you - because we play as a quartet - it can take a little bit more getting used to," he said.

To the untrained ear, the Wagnerian clarinet sounds almost identical to its more modern cousin.

But clarinettist Anthony Pay said: "It contains a sort of intimacy which is very suitable for the things that we have to we play in the Ring."

Rings debut

The performance itself is the first ever staging of the Ring cycle at the Proms, and will be shared between different teams of performers over the next four years.

As for Sir Simon Rattle, he is convinced using Wagner's choice of instruments adds something special to the performance.

"The sound reminds me of the forest floor a lot more, of wood and pine needles and those types of aromas," he explained

"It's much more lyrical and flexible, and it has a different smell to it and a wonderful type of dampness."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"A look around the orchestra reveals some things are a little different."



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