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Thread: Wagner on disc....Parsifal

  1. #121
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Has this one been mentioned yet? What does anybody think of it?
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    Has this one been mentioned yet? What does anybody think of it?
    Terrific sonics, mediocre conducting and singing.

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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    While neither should be a 'first' Parsifal, these are two I have listened to with great pleasure. The first is one for the ages - and hearing the original bells really is very special. The second is an oddity that works much better than it should - Parsifal in Italian with Herself on fire.

    71R1E0msQKL._SL1200_.jpg

    81ip0RvK4tL._SL1500_.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oreb View Post
    While neither should be a 'first' Parsifal, these are two I have listened to with great pleasure. The first is one for the ages - and hearing the original bells really is very special. The second is an oddity that works much better than it should - Parsifal in Italian with Herself on fire.

    71R1E0msQKL._SL1200_.jpg

    81ip0RvK4tL._SL1500_.jpg

    I bought the Muck Friday and it’s out for delivery already. I’am looking forward to hearing it though I don’t believe it is a complete performance. But I really want to hear the original bells.

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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
    I bought the Muck Friday and it’s out for delivery already. I’am looking forward to hearing it though I don’t believe it is a complete performance. But I really want to hear the original bells.
    It's not complete by any means, although there is most of Act 3. Still, it's a glorious account and the sound on the Naxos disc is very good indeed (taking into account its age).

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    Wow can’t believe how good this Naxos sounds for a 1927 recording. If only it was a complete performance it would easily be near the top. With Mucks’ close relationship with Cosima she must’ve approved of his conducting of Wagners’ Operas. This is also the only recording of the Wagner Bells from Bayreuth. Wasnt prepared for how different they sounded than the bells used in all the other recordings I’ve heard, took a second to realize what I was hearing. Reminded me of a piano being struck with a sledgehammer. But the bells were cast under Wagner’s supervision so the darker sound must’ve been what he wanted not the brighter bells used since. The prelude was magical under Muck and act 3 was fantastic. Happy I bought this and will definitely return to it.

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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    (Edited)

    Leaving music aside: does anybody notice that between each of the acts (two tracks following in the same disc) the coughs fit? I mean, the same coughs of the end of Act I continue in Act II, and similar between Act II and III.
    Was this part from a rehearsal? It wouldn't happen if it was live with real audience, because there would be a jump, I suppose.

    What do you know or think about the coughs? Two things come to my mind. One is a superhuman achievement and the second implies Philips cheating.
    1. This opera was recorded live in a single take (4h) with some coughs from a small audience.
    2. This is a live compilation of separate rehearsals, with Philips recording silent coughs and mixing them between acts to feign a live with audience performance.
    Last edited by Granate; Nov-24-2017 at 20:26. Reason: Further notice in Act II and III

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    I believe that among the cognoscenti this Parsifal is known as the 'Parsifal of the Dying Audience.'
    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Faustian View Post
    The studio recording with Meier in McIntyre is inferior to the 1971 performance. Its tempos are limp, the atmosphere is dull, and the orchestra is second-rate. The 1971 broadcast is a far more insightful of a reading and it features a searing portrayal of the title character by Jon Vickers.
    Second rate? I think I'm duty bound to stick up for my local company The Welsh National Opera orchestra, and its chorus too, can hold their heads high when compared with their much better-funded Covent Garden equivalents, and they sound fine to me here.

    I agree with you on the relative merits of Goodall's two recordings, however. That said, whilst neither would be in my Top Ten Parsifal recordings, I'm rather fond of them both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
    This is also the only recording of the Wagner Bells from Bayreuth. Wasnt prepared for how different they sounded than the bells used in all the other recordings I’ve heard, took a second to realize what I was hearing. Reminded me of a piano being struck with a sledgehammer.
    They're also at a slightly different pitch than the orchestra, are they not? (I'd check the liner notes if I could find the CD.)

  16. #131
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Default Wagner Challenge update - Favourite STEREO Parsifal

    Winner but not Desert Island



    Wagner
    PARSIFAL WWV 111 Live recording
    Jess Thomas
    Hans Hotter
    George London
    Martti Talvela
    Irene Dalis
    Gustav Neidlinger

    Niels Möller
    Gerd Niendstedt

    Gundula Janowitz
    Anja Silja
    Else-Magrete Gardelli
    Usrula Boerse

    Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
    Hans Knappertsbusch
    Decca (1962/2006 Remastered Edition)


    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The interesting thing about Parsifal is that it's hard to find a really bad recording of it. Although there are individual singers or conductorial concepts that will rule out certain recordings for some people, I think the piece tends to instill in its interpreters a special sense of responsibility.
    Maybe not that these were really bad, but I found it way much harder to find a bad recording of the Ring than this lot of 13 Parsifals. I'm mildly disappointed with the general level. There are so many fastly paced, slowly paced, unevenly paced, badly sung, badly engineered recordings in stereo that I cannot explain myself why is it so difficult to get it right. The two most notable let-downs are Barenboim BPO and Kubelík SOdBR, both suffering from an uneven orchestration although Kubelík really improves over Act III. The Barenboim is a cast disaster on the levels of Kubelík's Lohengrin. The dynamics were truly a problem as many stated here. The two Levine recordings are, in fact, with a nice orchestral sound and more controversial pace. The two Domingo recordings strike me because both in 1994 and 2005 find him in perfect vocal shape for the role. He never fails. There are also several James King recordings here, with the two finest being Sawallisch BaySO in 1977 and the Kubelík recording. And curiously the best Waltraud Meier performance out of three is for me the Levine Bayreuth, fresher but still immature. Jerusalem and her were quite burnt in the Barenboim recording, quite normal after a towering Tristan und Isolde.
    I found myself fearing that I wouldn't find a really good stereo Parsifal, but fortunately I left the Knappertsbusch 1962 recording for the end. It worked out. It's one of the two issues that I'm willing to buy for now, with the Kegel Leipzig. In both releases the music works out.

    In the praised Knappertsbusch 62 recording, the sound quality is fine, with some issues in the brass. There are too many coughs, and I believe that some of them are fake. The cast on paper and performance is not superb. It’s easily beatable by another Bayeuth cast in the fifties. Everything lives in the shade of Bayreuth 1976. Irene Dalis looks like she is going to deliver a lot in Act II and that never happens. She does what she can. Hotter is not the best Gurnemanz possible with his age. He has the ability to portray an elder Gurnemanz but Sotin is way a better singer. Talvela is fine as Titurel, similar to Salminen. London's late Amfortas is not the finest sung but one of the most hurtful. Very peaceful. Neidlinger’s Klingsor is as good as this recording can ask for. The flowermaidens are top singers, with Janowitz impregnating everything. And Thomas’ Parsifal is not exactly the towering hero I expected. He finally blossoms in the Amfortas wound aria, to a pleasant but not rapturing state. But what makes this a winner recording? Knappertsbusch. His music and terrific conducting impregnates everything. His sudden changes smoothens the imprecisions of Hotter, gives colour to a crepuscular London, lifts up Dalis’ basses with delicacy, sharpens Neidlinger’s requests and desires and melts with Thomas’ aura of heldentenor as much as he can. It speeds and slows down naturally. Act III does go slower, never turning dull. And the two transformation music scenes, with the chorus and the Bayreuth "Piano" bells, are magical. At least I have a stereo recording to reference to. But this challenge is not closed in this opera, and one historical recording with a superb cast and decent sound quality can beat this release.

    Honourable mentions: (???)


    2. Karajan BPO: The shortest description to this “thing” is “hot mess”. This dress is gorgeous in the front but it has many tears in the back. What am I listening to? Everything spins around the sound and Karajan. Impossible to review separately. A “Mozartian”, whispering Gurnemanz (Kurt Moll), a heavy Amfortas (José van Dam), a spooky Titurel (Victor von Halem), a lean, subtle Kundry (Dunja Vejzović), a decent Klingsor (Siegmund Nimsgern) and a Parsifal on the edge of the cliff (Peter Hofmann). Their vocal performances can be both sublime and disgusting, because they cannot escape from Karajan’s web. The “Karajanization” reaches almost unbearable peaks for one who approves his DG Ring sound. The Sound Quality is sublime, with the most beautiful overture possible and the most infuriating Transformation music imaginable, with a pace and a set of church bells that destroys the concepts that Wagner tried to send with this score. The chorus is loud and magnificient but it's almost like a war funeral. What am I listening to?! I should hate this “version”, but the unbelievable flawed set of recordings in stereo forces me to place this on the second position. I don't refuse to buy this recording, but not for the present price.

    3. Solti WPO: Good recording. Never causes commotion and compassion, and never offends. Kundry and Parsifal (Ludwig and Kollo) are not on their best level. Ludwig is wore-out (quite haunting) and Kollo is still immature (mixes Lohengrin and Tannhäuser). The best ones are Gurnemanz (Gottlob Frick), Amfortas (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) and Klingsor (Zoltán Kelemen). Acts I and III are really good, thanks to the Wiener Philharmoniker and Decca sound.

    4. Kegel LRSO: This is a fast recording, but one does not notice, unlike with Boulez. Ulrik Cold is a light but lively Gurnemanz who leads all the opera, with a very fresh voice, a heldenbass. Theo Adam is a fiery Amfortas that resonates in the entire hall, which is accurate. His voice is at times monochromatic which prevents him from delivering a bleeding suffering (ok, cool pain). Gisela Schröter plays Kundry with neat bass notes that excel in Act I and the first scene of Act II. The second scene of that fiery act is odd, seductive before and restrained after the kiss, a bit of a let-down. Reid Bunger is an everyman Klingsor. René Kollo signs his best Parsifal, excelling in the dead swan dialogue. To tip with a cherry, the sound and acoustics are gorgeous. Extremely clean for a live concert. This is worth the purchase.

    5. Stein BFO 76: This is probably the best sung recording of all the 13 stereo tried here. Sotin is in terrific shape, in his first years of Gurnemanz. Weikl’s Amfortas is fit also, better than the DG Video. Very bassy but in control. Randová is no different from the video, and it’s arguably my favourite Kundry. Ridderbusch is ok as Titurel. And Hofmann… blossoms in his best Parsifal possible. Reminds a lot of Domingo, with a towering Amfortas wound aria and an impossible Act III. He confronts Randová perfectly. But then comes the problem: Horst Stein, with a pace and conducting that only resembles to low-tier recordings in the challenge. Even Sawallisch one year later manages better the Bayerischen Staatsorchester. The second issue is the number of drop-outs and the noise floor that makes the listening tough.

    Rest of the rank (stereo)
    06. Kubelík SOdBR (YouTube source, BR)
    07. Sawallisch BaySO 77 (OD)
    08. Levine BFO (Decca)
    09. Barenboim BPO (WC)
    10. Levine Met (DG)
    11. Boulez BFO 70 (DG)
    12. Thielemann WStO (DG)
    13. Gergiev Maa (Maa)

    Now I'll make a pause of Wagner with a small Bruckner challenge (I don't know how I'm going to report it. It could be little useful).
    And by December 1st I may start with the Wagner Mono challenge.
    Last edited by Granate; Nov-25-2017 at 20:30. Reason: "Matti" Talvela

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  18. #132
    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Knap 62 recording, the sound quality is fine, with some issues in the brass. There are too many coughs, and I believe that some of them are fake. The cast on paper and performance is not superb. It’s easily beatable by another Bayeuth cast in the fifties. Everything lives in the shade of Bayreuth 1976. Irene Dalis looks like she is going to deliver a lot in Act II and that never happens. She does what she can. Hotter is not the best Gurnemanz possible with his age. He has the ability to portray an elder Gurnemanz but Sotin is way a better singer. Talvela is fine as Titurel, similar to Salminen. London's late Amfortas is not the finest sung but one of the most hurtful. Very peaceful. Neidlinger’s Klingsor is as good as this recording can ask for. The flowermaidens are top singers, with Janowitz impregnating everything. And Thomas’ Parsifal is not exactly the towering hero I expected. He finally blossoms in the Amfortas wound aria, to a pleasant but not rapturing state. But what makes this a winner recording? Knappertsbusch. His music and terrific conducting impregnates everything. His sudden changes smoothens the imprecisions of Hotter, gives colour to a crepuscular London, lifts up Dalis’ basses with delicacy, sharpens Neidlinger’s requests and desires and melts with Thomas’ aura of heldentenor as much as he can. It speeds and slows down naturally. Act III does go slower, never turning dull. And the two transformation music scenes, with the chorus and the Bayreuth "Piano" bells, are magical. At least I have a stereo recording to reference to. But this challenge is not close in this opera, and one historical recording with a superb cast and decent sound quality can beat this release.
    Granate it maybe harder to surpass the 62 Knap with an older mono version than you think, the 1950s Bayreuth group give us Modl's Kundry, vinay/windgassen's Parsifal, Niedlinger/Uhde's Klingsor and many different Gurnemanz in very good mono sound with Knap's slower tempo gradually getting faster each year as time and experience grow........before 1951 there are few options and sound quality will be a big issue.

    If I could change one thing about 62 Knap I would like to substitute 51-53 era Modl as Kundry even though Dalis is very good, I keep Hotter, Thomas, Neidlinger and the faster wiser Knap. The more you compare others Hotter will rise above his rival Gurnemanz with his deep emotional portrayal, his ability to get the essence of a character and bring the scence to life, to make other singers elevate thier performances, he is a wagner treasure that further exploration will only serve to confirm.....

    Some will also say Vickers to replace Thomas as Parsifal, but as in previous discussions I stay with young Jess Thomas as the perfect fool...
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Nov-25-2017 at 15:59.

  19. #133
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    I found it way much harder to find a bad recording of the Ring than this lot of 13 Parsifals. I'm mildly disappointed with the general level. There are so many fastly paced, slowly paced, unevenly paced, badly sung, badly engineered recordings in stereo that I cannot explain myself why is it so difficult to get it right.

    I found myself fearing that I wouldn't find a really good stereo Parsifal, but fortunately I left the Knappertsbusch 1962 recording for the end. It worked out. It's one of the two issues that I'm willing to buy for now, with the Kegel Leipzig. In both releases the music works out.

    In the praised Knappertsbusch 62 recording, the sound quality is fine, with some issues in the brass. There are too many coughs, and I believe that some of them are fake. The cast on paper and performance is not superb. It’s easily beatable by another Bayeuth cast in the fifties. Everything lives in the shade of Bayreuth 1976. Irene Dalis looks like she is going to deliver a lot in Act II and that never happens. She does what she can. Hotter is not the best Gurnemanz possible with his age. He has the ability to portray an elder Gurnemanz but Sotin is way a better singer. Talvela is fine as Titurel, similar to Salminen. London's late Amfortas is not the finest sung but one of the most hurtful. Very peaceful. Neidlinger’s Klingsor is as good as this recording can ask for. The flowermaidens are top singers, with Janowitz impregnating everything. And Thomas’ Parsifal is not exactly the towering hero I expected. He finally blossoms in the Amfortas wound aria, to a pleasant but not rapturing state. But what makes this a winner recording? Knappertsbusch. His music and terrific conducting impregnates everything. His sudden changes smoothens the imprecisions of Hotter, gives colour to a crepuscular London, lifts up Dalis’ basses with delicacy, sharpens Neidlinger’s requests and desires and melts with Thomas’ aura of heldentenor as much as he can. It speeds and slows down naturally. Act III does go slower, never turning dull. And the two transformation music scenes, with the chorus and the Bayreuth "Piano" bells, are magical. At least I have a stereo recording to reference to. But this challenge is not close in this opera, and one historical recording with a superb cast and decent sound quality can beat this release.

    Honourable mentions: (???)

    2. Karajan BPO: The shortest description to this “thing” is “hot mess”. This dress is gorgeous in the front but it has many tears in the back. What am I listening to? Everything spins around the sound and Karajan. Impossible to review separately. A “Mozartian”, whispering Gurnemanz (Kurt Moll), a heavy Amfortas (José van Dam), a spooky Titurel (Victor von Halem), a lean, subtle Kundry (Dunja Vejzović), a decent Klingsor (Siegmund Nimsgern) and a Parsifal on the edge of the cliff (Peter Hofmann). Their vocal performances can be both sublime and disgusting, because they cannot escape from Karajan’s web. The “Karajanization” reaches almost unbearable peaks for one who approves his DG Ring sound. The Sound Quality is sublime, with the most beautiful overture possible and the most infuriating Transformation music imaginable, with a pace and a set of church bells that destroys the concepts that Wagner tried to send with this score. The chorus is loud and magnificient but it's almost like a war funeral. What am I listening to?! I should hate this “version”, but the unbelievable flawed set of recordings in stereo forces me to place this on the second position. I don't refuse to buy this recording, but not for the present price.

    3. Solti WPO: Good recording. Never causes commotion and compassion, and never offends. Kundry and Parsifal (Ludwig and Kollo) are not on their best level. Ludwig is wore-out (quite haunting) and Kollo is still immature (mixes Lohengrin and Tannhäuser). The best ones are Gurnemanz (Gottlob Frick), Amfortas (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) and Klingsor (Zoltán Kelemen). Acts I and III are really good, thanks to the Wiener Philharmoniker and Decca sound.

    4. Kegel LRSO: This is a fast recording, but one does not notice, unlike with Boulez. Ulrik Cold is a light but lively Gurnemanz who leads all the opera, with a very fresh voice, a heldenbass. Theo Adam is a fiery Amfortas that resonates in the entire hall, which is accurate. His voice is at times monochromatic which prevents him from delivering a bleeding suffering (ok, cool pain). Gisela Schröter plays Kundry with neat bass notes that excel in Act I and the first scene of Act II. The second scene of that fiery act is odd, seductive before and restrained after the kiss, a bit of a let-down. Reid Bunger is an everyman Klingsor. René Kollo signs his best Parsifal, excelling in the dead swan dialogue. To tip with a cherry, the sound and acoustics are gorgeous. Extremely clean for a live concert. This is worth the purchase.
    A few remarks... I'm glad that you appreciate Knappertsbusch's mastery of this score and find his 1962 recording rewarding. I do have to wonder about your casual dismissal of Irene Dalis - "she does what she can" (?!) - who offers one of the most solidly sung and interpretively sharp Kundrys on record, almost as beautifully sung as Christa Ludwig's and almost as passionate as Martha Modl's but more consistent vocally. Dunja Vejzovic's Kundry for Karajan, which you characterize as "lean and subtle," is vocally nowhere near in the same class. Aside from your tolerance of her, I'm pretty much in agreement with you about the Karajan Parsifal (though why you call Jose van Dam's beautifully sung Amfortas "heavy" I can't imagine).

    What really baffles me is how someone who appreciates what Knappertsbusch does with this opera can accept what Herbert Kegel does to it. I couldn't even have imagined a conductor misunderstanding the work so thoroughly - or, if he does understand it, so perversely undermining it. The slow music, of which there is a great deal in Parsifal, has no mystery or gravity, the prelude hums along briskly without significant incident, some of the faster passages are as rollicking as Puccini's bohemians, and the stupendous act one transformation music is an abomination, tripping along so gaily that it might as well accompany a holiday parade. Kegel does moderate the pace for Kundry's gentle seduction of Parsifal, but here the weirdly tremulous voice of Gisela Schroeter lets us down - she may be an even worse Kundry than Vejzovic - and we're reminded, as always, that Rene Kollo is a pallid pipsqueak of a dramatic tenor. The rest of the cast is competent but vocally unexceptional; Ulrik Cold is an intelligent Gurnemanz, but his featherweight bass belongs in Bach cantatas.

    The great orchestral passages of Act 3 are hustled along brutally; it's just painful to be deprived of the near-atonality of the harmonic clashes created by the walking bass line in the transformation music, simply because they happen so quickly here as to make no effect - but why go on? I know of no other recording of Parsifal that succeeds in making Wagner's sublime mystery play sound frivolous and kitschy. Just listen to the brutal, brassy, blaring end of Act 2, capped by Gisela Schroeter's ludicrous shriek, and you will go running back to Knappertsbusch.

    The only reason I can think of for producing or listening to this recording is to see what happens when a half hour is trimmed from the timing of Hermann Levi's premiere performance of Parsifal under Wagner's direction in 1882. And what happens isn't pretty. I confess to having forgotten about this turkey when I said that a really bad Parsifal was hard to find. My sincerest apologies.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-26-2017 at 02:09.

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  21. #134
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I do have to wonder about your casual dismissal of Irene Dalis - "she does what she can" (?!) - who offers one of the most solidly sung and interpretively sharp Kundrys on record, almost as beautifully sung as Christa Ludwig's and almost as passionate as Martha Modl's but more consistent vocally. Dunja Vejzovic's Kundry for Karajan, which you characterize as "lean and subtle," is vocally nowhere near in the same class.
    There is one very subjective reason: Operas on video. My second Parsifal on video was the Stein 81 with Eva Randová in the role of Kundry. She became the bar for every Kundry I listened to and, while I really like Irene Dalis in Act I, I still did not quite catch her voice as the top, probably too focused on Jess Thomas (not one of my favourite heldentenors in stereo).



    The reason for my big love for Dunja Vejzović is her Ortrud role in the Abbado DVD Lohengrin, my first experience with the opera. In discography, I'm not fond at all of her studio Senta but I'm all in for her studio Ortrud in Karajan's recording. However, in this Parsifal recording, her Kundry cannot escape from the Karajan sound. I generally like her more in Act I and Act II until the kiss. From then she just cannot sing the notes the way Randová and Meier do, but she is still pretty ok.

    I think it has to do with the pictures of the operas imprinted in our head. Gwyneth Jones is also my favourite Brünnhilde because of the centenary Ring (and because her voice deserves such a recognition), but I didn't fit her in roles as Kundry or Ortrud (her Böhm Senta is good, as well as her Venus, not so much Elisabeth).



    We should open a thread about our first singers in the roles of opera and how much did they shape our minds about the "perfect" performance, the bar to jump over. It would be very interesting to discuss references and whether it depends on the generation and the media we consume.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Aside from your tolerance of her, I'm pretty much in agreement with you about the Karajan Parsifal (though why you call Jose van Dam's beautifully sung Amfortas "heavy" I can't imagine).
    Sorry, bad English. I wanted to express that I hear more ease in his voice when he sings in the bassier notes than the sharper. I felt more like he was a basstone than a baritone. I don't know how is that expressed into "informed CM English".

    This forum is the only place I use English. I write all my reviews in English directly and sometimes I don't know what I'm writing about. Stuff stuff. It's been very long since I last lived in England on Erasmus and since then I have not attended English classes.
    Last edited by Granate; Nov-25-2017 at 18:27. Reason: Further replies

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  23. #135
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    What really baffles me is how someone who appreciates what Knappertsbusch does with this opera can accept what Herbert Kegel does to it.
    Though I did find Karajan and Boulez styles baffling, I have the habits in terms of recordings of looking for a bit of everything. The more different the merrier, but that is pretty recent too and started with my Bruckner challenge, and continued in my Mahler challenge.

    The Kegel works for me, in music and cast (Also, a soft spot on René Kollo). Knappertsbusch, Kubelík and Solti step on each other (Kna wins of course).

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