Mike Svoboda Quartet: do you love wagner?

music by Richard Wagner and Mike Svoboda, texts by Thomas Mann, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Friedrich Nietzsche, Camille Saint-Saëns, Erik Satie, and Richard Wagner

Stefan Preyer - bass, vocals, melodica
João Carlos Pacheco - drums, vocals, accordion, e-guitar
Karolina Öhman - cello, vocals, melodica
Mike Svoboda - trombone, megaphone, vocals, arrangements, and compositions


concert program

Two steps forward - one back (Text: F. Nietzsche)
Erste Begegnung - Michaels Arie (Text: Friedrich Nietzsche)
Mix and Match
T-chord (Text: C. Saint-Säens)
Tangotanztees (Text: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti)
Punching Bag
Dynamite - Mike's Aria (Text: Erik Satie)
Die Werkeinführung (Text: Thomas Mann)
River Run
Static Cymbal - Scott's Aria (Text: Friedrich Nietzsche)
duration: 80 minutes without intermission

14 Attempts to love Richard Wagner was commissioned by the South German Radio and premiered on February 2nd, 2002 at the ECLAT Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.

CD available: Mike Svoboda: do you love Wagner?

svoboda: tango tea parties

svoboda: love-drift


A lively masquerade between Wagner, new music, jazz, rock, and pop with brief texts „for, against, and by Wagner" that emerges from the brilliantly crafted and enthusiastically experimental 14 Attempts to love Richard Wagner by the American trombonist and composer MikeSvoboda. The collage, which presents itself as „Adult Entertainment" imparted congenially by Svoboda's quartet without any stylistic blinders. - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Highlight of the ECLAT Festival in Stuttgart - Mike Svoboda Scratches Away at the Myth of Richard Wagner - The Public Goes Wild: Enthusiasm in abundance for the premiere of Mike Svoboda's 14 Attempts to love Richard Wagner. The work derives its charm from the inhibition with which Mike Svoboda, an American who has adopted Tübingen as his home, approaches the German megalith Wagner. . . . In addition to a series of text quotations, for example, from the surreal Erik Satie and the Futurist Marinetti, the composing and reciting rascal Svoboda has brought three accomplices onto his ship of fools: Scott Roller (cello), Wolfgang Fernow (double bass), Michael Kiedaisch (drums). Crossing borders between classical, jazz, funk, rock, and more, versed in technique and schooled in improvisation, they set to work disassembling famous motifs from Lohengrin, Meistersinger, and Tristan, congenially employing their voices and a collection of instruments including melodica, harmonica, and accordion. Svoboda, the musician with the roguish smile, has a penchant for contrasts - his musical background, ranging from Frank Zappa to Karlheinz Stockhausen, is enough to prove that. The hot-cold mix of innocently magic music with heart-rending effect, lined with a fat groove and contrasted with operetta-like recitatives through a megaphone, drove the audience wild. With his Wagner quote „my dear fellows, a little more passionately!" Svoboda has created a bang, which ultimately justifies the festival's name, ECLAT, and gives the lie to Marinetti's fear that „The tango is bad enough, but Parsifal is worse, because it injects the dancers, already wobbly from listlessness, with an incurable musical neurasthenia" because the audience for a New Music concert has never been so animated. Heilbronner Stimme

How Svoboda and Co. Learned to Love Wagner: Trivial jokes, like a „Ride of the Valkyries" in a version for eight recorders, are not embraced by Mike Svoboda's Adult Entertainment, 14 Attempts to love Richard Wagner. The quartet formation succeeds in presenting an astonishingly accurate version of the languishing music from Tristan with all its essential features: undulating figures in the strings, delicate woodwind parts that clamber in wistful chromaticism from suspension to suspension but never finding the final note. A provocative prelude that tickles the senses, which almost never finds fulfillment in its consonant resolution. . . . Tricky chromatic modulations and the simplest melodic constructions, rumbling marking of time and surprising developments: Scott Roller and Wolfgang Fernow, Michael Kiedaisch and Mike Svoboda seize hold of the Wagner material, recombine it, and, sometimes freely improvising, grind it through the mills of jazz and pop styles. In the middle of it all Svoboda sang of his hitherto secret love for Wagner's music - oddly, in the form of the song „Secret Love" from the musical Calamity Jane, something like an American cover version of the Valkyrie genre. Roller used his cello perfectly as a rhythm guitar, while Fernow and Kiedaisch took up the role of backup singers. Very much to the audience's delight, the confession was repeated as an encore: „Now I shout it from the highest hill / Even told the golden daffodil." Short quotations present Nietzsche's veneration for Wagner as well as his later contempt for him; Svoboda reads an antinationalistic Wagner joke by Erik Satie with gusto, as he did Marinetti's polemic, which shimmers with colorful tirades of insults: „Tango is bad enough. Parsifal is worse" followed by a passage about the erotic implications of this, which is for adults only. A high point of the recitations was the opening of Thomas Mann's great essay, which Svoboda discharged with the appearance of strained solemnity, but also lack of understanding. His charming, slight American accent distorted the heavy, slowly read sentences. Clever and entertaining, Svoboda and his virtuoso fellow players - or should we say „fellow conspirators" succeed in their musical arrangement of the Wagner material. The audience proved themselves to be Meistersinger on the syllable "la" in the second encore, confidently mastered the innocently simple triadic opening motif, and even followed the modest rhythmic shadings. - Schwäbisches Tagblatt

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