In this world-premiere recording, Andrew Gourlay conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in his new Parsifal Suite, a deftly constructed concert piece of orchestral highlights from Wagner’s Parsifal, published by Schott Music.
Gourlay has sought to encapsulate Parsifal’s main orchestral elements into a seamless suite, resulting in a sumptuous 45-minute work that allows Wagner’s exquisite music to be enjoyed in a new way. Gourlay sees this as an opportunity to bring Parsifal into a fresh context but with minimal interference to the essentials of the score: ‘I wanted Wagner to speak for himself’.
Andrew Gourlay grew up with Wagner’s music but first became truly immersed in it on visits as a student to the Royal Opera House, standing at the back of the theatre. ‘I have such fond memories of those experiences. Wagner’s ability to seize one’s attention from the off is hard to match.’
Gourlay’s decision to create this Suite was driven by admiration – and necessity. Like many conductors, he wanted to use music from Parsifal in concert programmes, but was frustrated by the lack of performable material. Even so, arranging the Suite began as something Gourlay undertook for his own use, without expectation that it would be published. When it was finished, the result seemed so true to Wagner, and therefore so enjoyable to conduct, that Gourlay felt others would welcome the chance to experience it.
He also wanted to open up this music to as wide an audience as possible. ‘I was conscious of all those musicians playing in orchestras who might be longing to be more involved with the music of Parsifal, but might never get the chance because something like this wasn’t available.’
Gourlay’s challenge in creating this Suite was to isolate each section of Wagner’s music. ‘Wagner morphs his orchestral passages so seamlessly into the next moment of drama that it is sometimes impossible to extract them. One could invent new endings, but I wanted to perform the music that I fell in love with in the first place. My solution was to allow each extract to flow directly into the next. It really got my creative energy going trying to find ways to connect those interludes and preludes without obstructing the original Wagner. In the end it just felt right.’