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Thread: Wagner opera on disc.......Tannhauser

  1. #31
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Picked this up recently and listened to it a few times:

    718rjYuamDL._SL1200_.jpg

    It's good! I generally don't like Cluytens' way with Wagner (or really much of anything) so I've avoided this set until now. I do think he's a bit of a weak link here--there's times when the momentum flags and it's less energetic than it could be, but he's not actively annoying here the way he is for me with his Meistersinger or Hollander. And the choral work here is really excellent.

    The cast is very good. Windgassen has more vigor and sap than in his later recordings. I still wish he performed the role with a little more gesang and a little less sprech, but I think this is one of the better performances of the title role on record. Brouwenstijn is a very impressive Elisabeth, and Wilfert is a decent Venus. I again found myself wondering why Brouwenstijn didn't record a lot more Wagner, she's as good here as in her performances as Sieglinde. I'd have loved to have heard her as Elsa.

    DFD is absolutely wonderful as Wolfram, easily bettering his performance on the Gerdes, on par or better than his performance in the Konwitschny. Even Greindl was able to tone down his essentially villainous sound for this recording so his Landraf doesn't sound like the heavy, and the small roles are well filled here--Traxel's a perfectly decent Walt, and the boy they got to do the shepherd pulls it off very creditably.

    A very solid recording overall. I don't think it knocks off the Sinopoli in my affections but it's a recording I think I'll be listening to a lot over the next few months.

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Default Wagner Challenge update - Favourite STEREO Tannhäuser



    Wagner
    TANNHÄUSER WWV 70, PARIS VERSION I - DRESDEN VERSION II-III
    Peter Seiffert
    Thomas Hampson
    Jane Eaglen
    Waltraud Meier
    Gunnar Gudbjörnsson
    Hanno Müller-Brachmann
    Stephan Rügamer
    Alfred Reiter
    René Pape
    Dorothea Röschmann

    Chor der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin
    Staatskapelle Berlin
    Daniel Barenboim
    Warner Classics (2001/2012 Reissue Edition)




    Wagner
    TANNHÄUSER WWV 70, PARIS VERSION
    René Kollo
    Victor Braun
    Helga Dernesch
    Christa Ludwig
    Werner Hollweg
    Kurt Equiluz
    Manfred Jungwirth
    Norman Bailey
    Hans Sotin

    Wiener Sängerknaben
    Wiener Staatsopernchor
    Wiener Philharmoniker
    Georg Solti
    Decca (1971/1985 Reissue Edition)




    Wagner
    TANNHÄUSER WWV 70, DRESDEN VERSION
    Hans Hopf
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Elisabeth Grümmer
    Marianne Schech
    Fritz Wunderlich
    Rudolf Gonszar
    Gerhard Unger
    Gottlob Frick
    Lisa Otto

    Chor der Berliner Staatsoper
    Staatskapelle Berlin
    Franz Konwitschny
    Warner Classics (1960/2011 Reissue Edition)


    For stereo Tannhäusers, I'm more in the crowd. I honestly do not care if there is a Bachanale or not. So I don't bother whether it is Paris or Dresden. But I think that, besides singing quality, the Barenboim recording is my favourite mixed version, using the Paris Act I (basically all the Paris version) without the Bachanale, and then all Dresden.

    Of the Dresden Recordings, I would encourage not to buy the scam of Otto Gerdes, with an unbelievable cast on paper of which all are past their prime or symply the dynamics are terrible. Sotin sings better two years later than in this one. I put a C- but it's very close to an F. The other dull recording is the Haitink for Warner Classics, despite the excellent performance of Lucia Popp and the quite inmmature and histrionic Venus by Waltraud Meier.

    Sawallisch 62 and Sinopoli are very close. I think Sinopoli offers a better cast and the conducting is not dull at all, but delicate. I think this time Studer does not work quite well as Elisabeth, and her duet with Domingo sounds tired by both parts. Salminen is so soulful I want a t-shirt with his face. The Sawallisch 62 in Bayreuth is in the end a recording I respect, for Bumbry, Wächter and Silja. Windgassen sounds tired in Act II.

    Of these three shortlisted, I chose Konwitschny for the best conducting overall (Solti and Barenboim exceed the brass balance) and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Wolfram. The rest of the cast is also great. My Dresden choice.

    For the "Paris" and Paris, it's very even between the spectacular Barenboim (to say someone, he is not one to congratulate here IMO) and the Decca-perfection of Solti. I'll put it this way:

    Seiffert/Eaglen/Meier > Kollo/Dernesch/Ludwig
    Hampson/Pape < Braun/Sotin

    That is why Barenboim SKB is my Stereo winner.



    Oops, I forgot to add some Jones.
    Last edited by Granate; Oct-22-2017 at 19:34.

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  5. #33
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Solti gives an electrifying performance which is what this opera needs to make it listenable. His cast is good too.

  6. #34
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    If only they'd found a better Tannhäuser...
    I find Tannhauser to be the Wagner opera in which my interest is most likely to flag. Wagner was right to revise the first scene when he added the ballet; Venus in her original Dresden form was about as seductive as a health care worker (apologies to all sexy health care workers), but the music written for her Paris reincarnation is shiveringly gorgeous. There's dull stuff in act 2 too; I don't think songs in praise of chastity were the sort of thing to have Wagner springing out of bed at 3 AM to write them down. He was never satisfied with the opera and sighed to Cosima, "I still owe the world a Tannhauser."

    I own only Solti's recording, but apart from his liveliness and the luscious Venus of Christa Ludwig I can't say I find it wholly satisfactory, with Rene Kollo a sincere and intelligent pipsqueak rather than a fervent heldentenor, and Helga Dernesch warm-voiced but a bit pinched and squealy rather than freely soaring at the top of her range, and always sounding sort of tearful (I think it's something in her vocal timbre, as it affects everything she sings). What a pity Jon Vickers was too priggish to condescend to sing Tannhauser; the part may not have had an adequate exponent since Melchior, who can be heard in it but not in a worthy production.

    I may or may not slightly prefer the Sinopoli recording, with Domingo far more vocally attractive than Kollo and the two ladies, Agnes Baltsa and Cheryl Studer, very fine and rather good, respectively. It's too bad that the old EMI Konwitschny is Dresden, since Elisabeth Grummer, here as in Lohengrin and Meistersinger, provides an ageless lesson in Wagnerian style. Hans Hopf is beefy as usual but no worse than Kollo, Fischer-Dieskau has in Wolfram a part made for him, Frick is an ideal Landgraf, Wunderlich is a cherry on the sundae as Walther, and a Paris Act 1 with a great mezzo - Ludwig could have done it for EMI too - would have made this my first choice. If you like Dresden and can put up with Marianne Schech as Nurse Ratched, it's still a good buy.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-23-2017 at 07:59.

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  8. #35
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I own only Solti's recording, but apart from his liveliness and the luscious Venus of Christa Ludwig I can't say I find it wholly satisfactory, with Rene Kollo a sincere and intelligent pipsqueak rather than a fervent heldentenor, and Helga Dernesch warm-voiced but a bit pinched and squealy rather than freely soaring at the top of her range, and always sounding sort of tearful (I think it's something in her vocal timbre, as it affects everything she sings). What a pity Jon Vickers was too priggish to condescend to sing Tannhauser; the part may not have had an adequate exponent since Melchior, who can be heard in it but not in a worthy production.
    I agree about all of these points. I've never really understood the almost universal recommendation of the Solti, except for the fact that's one of the rare recordings of the Paris version. And the title role is the role in which hearing Melchior is most essential, because no one else is even close. The late Johan Botha sang it rather well at the Met a couple of years ago.

    I don't think that it was just "priggishness" that kept Vickers from the role, although it may have been a contributing factor - I suspect that was more a convenient excuse to avoid having to say the the tessitura was wrong for his voice. I've heard a very, very impressive Romerzählung on record sung by James King - it's a shame that he never sang the role, either (nor Tristan).

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  10. #36
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I own only Solti's recording, but apart from his liveliness and the luscious Venus of Christa Ludwig I can't say I find it wholly satisfactory, with Rene Kollo a sincere and intelligent pipsqueak rather than a fervent heldentenor, and Helga Dernesch warm-voiced but a bit pinched and squealy rather than freely soaring at the top of her range, and always sounding sort of tearful (I think it's something in her vocal timbre, as it affects everything she sings). What a pity Jon Vickers was too priggish to condescend to sing Tannhauser; the part may not have had an adequate exponent since Melchior, who can be heard in it but not in a worthy production.

    .
    I don't think a man acting according to his conscience deserves the title 'priggish'. We're not called upon to judge Jon Vickers' motives for not taking a role.
    Last edited by DavidA; Oct-24-2017 at 05:59.

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  12. #37
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I don't think a man acting according to his conscience deserves the title 'priggish'. We're not called upon to judge Jon Vickers' motives for not taking a role.
    We may not be called upon, but I did it anyway.

    I'd say to Mr. Vickers: "It's just a role, Jon. You're not advocating a lifestyle." For that matter neither was Wagner. But it seems that Vickers could see Tannhauser's struggle to reconcile nature and culture only in morally simplistic terms.

  13. #38
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    We may not be called upon, but I did it anyway.

    I'd say to Mr. Vickers: "It's just a role, Jon. You're not advocating a lifestyle." For that matter neither was Wagner. But it seems that Vickers could see Tannhauser's struggle to reconcile nature and culture only in morally simplistic terms.
    Actually morals are usually pretty simplistic. It's called right and wrong and if he found it wrong he was right not to sing it.
    Last edited by DavidA; Oct-24-2017 at 07:35.

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  15. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Actually morals are usually pretty simplistic. It's called right and wrong and if he found it wrong he was right not to sing it.
    So incestuous love twins are right, love affairs with ancient goddesses are wrong. Thanks for clearing that up bro.

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  17. #40
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    So incestuous love twins are right, love affairs with ancient goddesses are wrong. Thanks for clearing that up bro.
    I said it's the morality of conscience. I'm not here to judge another man's conscience about what parts he plays.

  18. #41
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Actually morals are usually pretty simplistic. It's called right and wrong and if he found it wrong he was right not to sing it.
    Of course he was right to do whatever he wanted to do... but he was priggish, though he probably felt he was just being a good Christian.

    Not singing Tannhauser was Vickers' personal preference. He didn't like the character or the opera. But he never understood Wagner. He saw the work as an attack on Christianity. What it really is is an attack on hypocrisy and...priggishness! Tannhauser is a character torn between the repressiveness of a hypocritical, medieval Christian culture - nothing surprising or unhistorical there - and his own need to express his full humanity, as represented by his sensual side. Elisabeth, a healthy young woman who, though part of that culture, is not hypocritical, can love Tannhauser and defend him, and ultimately save his soul through her own love and death, canceling out the damnation pronounced by the Pope.

    It's actually very Christian, though anti-ecclesiastical. Vickers didn't get it.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-24-2017 at 08:25.

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  20. #42
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Of course he was right to do whatever he wanted to do... but he was priggish, though he probably felt he was just being a good Christian.

    Not singing Tannhauser was Vickers' personal preference. He didn't like the character or the opera. But he never understood Wagner. He saw the work as an attack on Christianity. What it really is is an attack on hypocrisy and...priggishness! Tannhauser is a character torn between the repressiveness of a hypocritical, medieval Christian culture - nothing surprising or unhistorical there - and his own need to express his full humanity, as represented by his sensual side. Elisabeth, a healthy young woman who, though part of that culture, is not hypocritical, can love Tannhauser and defend him, and ultimately save his soul through her own love and death, canceling out the damnation pronounced by the Pope.

    It's actually very Christian, though anti-ecclesiastical. Vickers didn't get it.
    To say the opera is Christian is completely misunderstand Christianity, which of course Wagner did.

  21. #43
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    So incestuous love twins are right, love affairs with ancient goddesses are wrong. Thanks for clearing that up bro.
    I think Vickers was unhappy about Siegmund too - and Tristan and Siegfried and lots of Wagner's characters and dramas. He had this idea that Wagner was trying to destroy Christian morality. I'm not sure what he thought of Parsifal, despite his singing the part splendidly. Maybe he had the simplistic view that Parsifal was about not sleeping with bad women. Vickers was quite intelligent and thoughtful, but his understanding of Wagner seems to have been stunted by his personal and rather traditional religious views. Not that Wagner is easy, of course.

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  23. #44
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    To say the opera is Christian is completely misunderstand Christianity, which of course Wagner did.
    And I'm sure you're quite the authority on which brand of Christianity is really Christian. Every Christian is, of course; each one knows that all the others have got it wrong. Which is why we had the Inquisition.

  24. #45
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    And I'm sure you're quite the authority on which brand of Christianity is really Christian. Every Christian is, of course; each one knows that all the others have got it wrong. Which is why we had the Inquisition.
    My brand of Christianity is found in the New Testament. The Inquisition occurred because people tried to suppress a return to the New Testament practice in favour of Mediaeval traditions That is history.
    Last edited by DavidA; Oct-24-2017 at 08:55.

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