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Thread: Wagner recordings that everyone should own

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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
    I would say that the Goodall Ring definitely has to be tried before buying. The tempo throughout is glacial (his version is 2 hours and 15 minutes longer than Solti's classic).
    I found it didn't take me long to get used to the slow tempo's though.

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    I like slow tempi,
    i just don't like the English.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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    I approach this question from a slightly different angle than others. It's not that I don't care about the quality of the singing in Wagner's operas, I do, but the choice of the orchestra is also of primary importance to me, as is the quality of the conducting, and maybe a bit more so. With that in mind, I'd first recommend the Staatskapelle Dresden in Wagner's operas. The Staatskapelle was Wagner's orchestra in the 19th century, and they maintained a magnificent tradition of playing his music that lasted well into the 20th century--arguably, up to the mid-1980s or so (that is, prior to Sinopoli's tenure), if it's not going strong today (as I haven't heard them play Wagner under Thielemann). When the Staatskapelle Dresden is in great form, you won't hear another orchestra play Wagner's scores more in tune or more translucently. Which enables the listener to hear Wagner's entire score with a mind blowing clarity: especially the Staatskapelle as they were under conductor Carlos Kleiber in his DG recording of Tristan und Isolde, for example. The Bayreuther Festspiele, or Bayreuth Festival Orchestra is another top choice. & thirdly, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, or Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is exceptional in Wagner, too: having been created by conductor Eugen Jochum, before he passed his orchestra onto Rafael Kubelik, who was another great Wagner conductor. While my fourth & fifth choices would probably be the Vienna & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, respectively.

    As for Wagner conductors, over the years I've grown to prefer the following ten conductors: Hans Knappertsbusch, Eugen Jochum, Carlos Kleiber, Rudolf Kempe, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Rafael Kubelik, Otto Klemperer, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Lovro von Matacic, and Sir Reginald Goodall*. In addition, Sir Georg Solti is excellent in Tannhäuser & Gotterdammerung. While I've liked Herbert von Karajan in Das Rheingold & Parsifal.

    Unfortunately, Jochum's 1953 Tristan und Isolde, 1954 Lohengrin, and 1971 Parsifal, while magnificently conducted Wagner performances!, are either live mono bootlegs or mono radio broadcast recordings. They don't have terrible sound, but it's not ideal, either. Jochum had prepared to record a stereo Parsifal in the studio for DG towards the end of his life, but unfortunately, the project never came to fruition. Which is a shame, since I'd imagine it could have been one of the most spiritually transcendent Parsifals on record. Perhaps, in his later years, Jochum didn't have the health or energy to conduct such a taxing, long opera (or perhaps Karajan's DG Parsifal studio recording, which was made around the same time, took precedence, with Karajan getting his way). Judging by the quality of Jochum's conducting in his earlier live, 1971 Parsifal from Bayreuth (which is a bootleg), I'd rather have had a DG Parsifal from Jochum than Karajan (though, as noted, I don't dislike Karajan's DG Parsifal, which, by the way, has exceptional digital sound).

    So my own preference list looks something like this:

    1. Lohengrin: Eugen Jochum conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, live at the Bayreuth Festival in 1954, in a mono radio broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIFnV0O3g2s. Despite the less than ideal sound, this is my favorite Lohengrin; alongside Rudolf Kempe's legendary recording for EMI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtl0xI8_MhY. (Jochum's 1952 studio recording with the Bavarian RSO is very good, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIFn...4_QE-3L6SyjBV4.) I'd next recommend Rafael Kubelik's Lohengrin on DG, which is wonderfully conducted & played, as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niF4kyyBqqY, along with two other live Bayreuth performances: Wolfgang Sawallisch's live 1962 performance, on Philips/Decca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrgO3Ting4Y and https://www.amazon.com/Decca-Opera-W...5177212&sr=8-1, and Lovro von Matacic's live 1959 recording, on Orfeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYEVlkUIESk and https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...CABEgK2LvD_BwE. Those would be my top 5 favorite Lohengrins on record. By the way, I also think that Lohengrin (and/or Tannhäuser) makes an excellent (& more manageable) place to start, for newbies, before they move onto Tristan, Parsifal, the Ring, etc.

    2. Tristan und Isolde: Among digital era Tristans, IMO, the two best have been the very first digital recordings made of the opera: (1) Carlos Kleiber's DG recording with the Staatskapelle Dresden, even though not everyone is crazy about René Kollo's Tristan, and (2) Sir Reginald Goodall's Decca recording with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, with the less well known, but wonderful Linda Esther Gray in the role of Isolde (whose promising career sadly was cut short due to health reasons). I also like John Mitchinson's Tristan, and Gwynne Howell's Marke. Both conductors--Kleiber & Goodall--offer such different, contrasting views of the opera: Kleiber's being the more quick moving, fervent, & passionate performance (especially in Isolde's rapturous Liebestod, sung magnificently by Margaret Price), indeed it sounds like a live performance, even though it was made in the studio. While Goodall's performance is slower yet conducted with a strong grip on the overall structure of the work. In other words, I find both views essential towards better understanding the opera. While historically, I'd most recommend the Tristan recordings by Fritz Reiner, Hans Knappertsbush, Eugen Jochum, and Wilhelm Furtwängler. I know others have liked Karl Böhm's live 1966 DG recording from Bayreuth, with Birgit Nilsson in her prime singing Isolde (I actually prefer Price), but I'm less keen on that performance than I used to be (and besides, parts of the opera got cut in places). I've not heard Karajan's 1952 Bayreuth performance, but know that it has a good reputation among Wagnerites. However, I didn't overly care for Karajan's 1970-71 studio Tristan for EMI, finding it a bit drab, plain, & even ponderous. (I've heard that it doesn't begin to compare to Karajan's 1952 Bayreuth performance.)

    The great advantage of Carlos Kleiber's Tristan is that I've never heard a Wagner opera played more translucently and more in tune, as noted, than by the Staatskapelle Dresden under Kleiber, and it comes in superb digital sound, which admittedly helps in that regard. (Plus, it has been recently released on hybrid SACD, too, by Esoteric--which unfortunately is very $$$ now, but worth the splurge, sound-wise, IMO, if you can afford it). In my view, this is the recording that best explains why Kleiber was so highly regarded as a conductor, by other conductors, & more so than some of his other DG & Orfeo recordings, which I don't think always quite deserve the adulation they receive (such as his Beethoven, for instance, especially when compared to the depth that his father, Erich, achieved in Beethoven). But his Tristan does, & for me, this is Carlos Kleiber at his very best!




    https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/1...id_Stereo_SACD

    --Sir Reginald Goodall, Welsh National Opera Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IorK...HDvObfHRuQ7TSe
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...dm_ws_sp_ps_dp

    --Eugen Jochum, Bayreuth Festival, 1953: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-0Lewu3TpQ

    3. Tannhäuser: Like others, my first choice for the Paris version is Sir Georg Solti & the Vienna Philharmonic, on Decca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zIfAwniO4. Unfortunately, the better remastered 24-bit/96kHz 3 CD/Blu-ray release from 2018 appears to have already gone out of print: https://www.amazon.com/Wagner-Tannhä...079499&sr=8-13. Maybe it can be found used?

    As for the Dresden version, Wolfgang Sawallisch's Bayreuth Festival recording on Philips is good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyZlLsBWwbo, as is Franz Konwitschny & the Berlin State Opera Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxt...start_radio=1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxt...&start_radio=1, and among later digital era recordings, I'd probably opt for Bernard Haitink & the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQEg...ZOrUaqZ9vYyb_o. As for Giuseppe Sinopoli's two Tannhausers (on both CD & video), I used to like them, but Sinopoli's conducting hasn't aged well for me. Today, I consider him to be a mostly overrated conductor, who was lucky enough to be given a very great orchestra; indeed he makes some rather odd & IMO, unsound conducting decisions, if you can separate his conducting from the great orchestral playing, especially in his Dresden recordings. Granted, Sinopoli was probably at his best in Wagner (and I do still like him in his two CDs of Wagner Overtures & Preludes that he made for DG; that is, among digital era recordings of these works).

    4. Parsifal: My 1st choice is Hans Knappertsbusch's recording at the 1962 Bayreuth Festival, on Philips:


    Plus, here are some other Parsifals that I've liked:

    --Eugen Jochum, Bayreuth Festival, 1971 (a mono bootleg):

    --Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF0pwSC7qWg
    --Sir Reginald Goodall, Welsh National Opera Orchestra, 1984 (some find this performance too slow, even at times lethargic, especially given the extreme length of the opera; however, I don't dislike the slowness, and am glad to have such a highly detailed, alternative view of the score): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Prf9WjgSUI
    --Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, DG, 1980 (digital): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwakgBNZFR8
    --Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth Festival, DG, 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxpS...FbotXS4qC9j5eo
    --Sir Reginald Goodall, live at Covent Garden, 1971--with Jon Vickers in the title role (some prefer this live performance to Goodall's studio account): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGteEAZlQ9I

    5. Der Fliegende Holländer, or The Flying Dutchmen: Otto Klemperer & the New Philharmonia Orchestra, from 1968, on EMI is my stereo choice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyVR1PFiFug. While my mono choice is Ferenc Fricsay & the Rias Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin, a 1952 studio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AAM8xtiXQI.

    6. Ring Cycle--I don't have a favorite Ring cycle. Among the older mono & analogue Rings--those by Keilberth on Testament (mono), Karajan, Solti, Boulez, and Bohm (live at Bayreuth, with lots of cuts) are worth looking into. Although, as previously noted, I do like Karajan's Das Rheingold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFCFq6WWmGE, and Solti's Gotterdammerung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpJL5ET2CoI. Plus, historically speaking, there's Furtwängler's highly regarded (but) mono Die Walküre:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaJBcT-Nqt0
    https://www.amazon.com/Wilhelm-Furtw...5259231&sr=8-2

    I've never heard any of Furtwängler's other live Ring recordings (such as the cycle that he made in Italy), since I've never been overly keen to listen to a whole Ring cycle in poor sound.

    Among digital era Rings, the cycles by Janowski, Sawallisch, Goodall, and Haitink are all worthwhile.

    Janowski's Eurodisc Ring was the first digital Ring to be recorded in 1980, & while he had the Staatskapelle Dresden at around the same time that Kleiber did, Janowski's conducting isn't as brilliant as Kleiber's. However, his conducting isn't bad, either, & the orchestral playing is exceptional.

    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Das Rheingold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXHztH9Pwsc
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Die Walkure, Vorspiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xskyw8NXMgQ
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC2WRklz-9M
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Gotterdammerung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-JEY1A6YBM

    (If you become interested in Janowski's Dresden set, note that it has been released multiple times, at least four times on CD that I can recall.)

    Among other digital era cycles, Bernard Haitink's 1989 Ring is excellent, with the Bavarian RSO, and for me, may be preferable to Janowski's Ring in Dresden (despite that the Staatskapelle is my favorite orchestra), depending on how you respond to Haitink's conducting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czoesPjr0Aw. Wolfgang Sawallisch's digital Ring in Munich is also good and was videotaped, as well, if that interests you.

    Lastly, Sir Reginald Goodall's Ring cycle at the English National Opera is highly regarded, too, but it is sung in English, which may be a detraction for some listeners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIDLamNobz0.

    By the way, I'd also recommend Deryck Cooke's excellent "Introduction to Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen":


    7. Overtures & Preludes: Among the compilation recordings of Wagner's Overtures & Preludes, I'd most recommend Otto Klemperer & Hans Knappertsbusch; however, Jochum, Kubelik, Matacic, Haitink, and Sinopoli (with both the New York Philharmonic & Staatskapelle Dresden) are all good, too:

    --Klemperer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnQ6R8Y1rqA

    --Knappertsbusch:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaNhNPrgpc4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1ek6_SPgaw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLFb-kDLoo4
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/35353681956...CABEgKvofD_BwE

    This is a desert island disc in my collection: https://towerrecords.com/products/wa...iABEgJfv_D_BwE. While this alternative release, which contains the above & much else, is out of print, but if you can find it at a reasonable price, I'd recommend it: https://www.eloquenceclassics.com/re...nducts-wagner/

    --Jochum:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPxnJoCyCOY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE7AqtQkzsI

    And some more recommendable compilation sets:

    https://www.amazon.com/Overtures-Pre...s=music&sr=1-5

    --"Great Wagner Conductors" (Furtwängler, de Sabata, Knappertsbusch, Eimendorff, Jochum in a 4 CD 'historical' set): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Ii...Jhcpnv9WrZ1xFo. (DG also put out a companion 6 CD set entitled "Great Wagner Singers": https://www.amazon.com/Great-Wagner-...0B7UOOA4&psc=1.)

    Finally, for better sound quality, I've also enjoyed this 2 CD compilation 'highlights' set, entitled "Twilight of the Gods: The Essential Wagner Collection":
    https://music.amazon.com/albums/B001..._phfa_xx_xx_xx
    https://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Gods...00009ON7&psc=1

    (*I'd be remiss not to mention that Goodall, despite being a gifted Wagner conductor, was a Nazi sympathizer in the 1930s and later a holocaust denier, which he referred to as a "BBC Jewish plot". Therefore, due to Goodall's ugly political views, some listeners may wish to avoid his recordings.

    At the same time, I should also point out that, admirably, Hans Knappertsbusch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Eugen Jochum all refused to join the Nazi party, a decision that greatly cost Knappertsbusch in his career (while a conductor like Karajan joined the party twice!). I know, I know, can't we please stay away from the Nazi conversation!! I wish I could, but I'd end up feeling irresponsible & guilty if I didn't point these things out to any newbies, especially since I've just recommended the Wagner conducting of both Goodall & Karajan.)
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-03-2021 at 21:43.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    (*I'd be remiss not to mention that Goodall, despite being a gifted Wagner conductor, was a Nazi sympathizer in the 1930s and later a holocaust denier, which he referred to as a "BBC Jewish plot". Therefore, due to Goodall's ugly political views, some listeners may wish to avoid his recordings.

    At the same time, I should also point out that, admirably, Hans Knappertsbusch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Eugen Jochum all refused to join the Nazi party, a decision that greatly cost Knappertsbusch in his career (while a conductor like Karajan joined the party twice!). I know, I know, can't we please stay away from the Nazi conversation!! I wish I could, but I'd end up feeling irresponsible & guilty if I didn't point these things out to any newbies, especially since I've just recommended the Wagner conducting of both Goodall & Karajan.)
    There is nothing "remiss" about ignoring conductors' political views and associations. If you didn't bring them up, many listeners wouldn't even know about them. By mentioning them you implicitly suggest that they should interfere with people's appreciation of music. There are plenty of unpleasant aspects of people's lives which might compromise our enjoyment of their work should we be disposed to dwell on them, but why make an issue of them? Wagner - and Schumann, and Chopin, and Mussorgsky, and god knows who else - spoke badly of Jews, and Gesualdo committed murder, but most of us listen eagerly to their music. Most people, and life in general, mix the good and the bad. If the bad scares you and keeps you from enjoying the good, what sort of life do you have?

    No one needs to worry now about their money going to support Nazi conductors. They are all dead. Buy, listen, enjoy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    I approach this question from a slightly different angle than others. It's not that I don't care about the quality of the singing in Wagner's operas, I do, but the choice of the orchestra is also of primary importance to me, as is the quality of the conducting, and maybe a bit more so. With that in mind, I'd first recommend the Staatskapelle Dresden in Wagner's operas. The Staatskapelle was Wagner's orchestra in the 19th century, and they maintained a magnificent tradition of playing his music that lasted well into the 20th century--arguably, up to the mid-1980s or so (that is, prior to Sinopoli's tenure), if it's not going strong today (as I haven't heard them play Wagner under Thielemann). When the Staatskapelle Dresden is in great form, you won't hear another orchestra play Wagner's scores more in tune or more translucently. Which enables the listener to hear Wagner's entire score with a mind blowing clarity: especially the Staatskapelle as they were under conductor Carlos Kleiber in his DG recording of Tristan und Isolde, for example. The Bayreuther Festspiele, or Bayreuth Festival Orchestra is another top choice. & thirdly, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, or Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is exceptional in Wagner, too: having been created by conductor Eugen Jochum, before he passed his orchestra onto Rafael Kubelik, who was another great Wagner conductor. While my fourth & fifth choices would probably be the Vienna & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, respectively.

    As for Wagner conductors, over the years I've grown to prefer the following ten conductors: Hans Knappertsbusch, Eugen Jochum, Carlos Kleiber, Rudolf Kempe, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Rafael Kubelik, Otto Klemperer, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Lovro von Matacic, and Sir Reginald Goodall*. In addition, Sir Georg Solti is excellent in Tannhäuser & Gotterdammerung. While I've liked Herbert von Karajan in Das Rheingold & Parsifal.

    Unfortunately, Jochum's 1953 Tristan und Isolde, 1954 Lohengrin, and 1971 Parsifal, while magnificently conducted Wagner performances!, are either live mono bootlegs or mono radio broadcast recordings. They don't have terrible sound, but it's not ideal, either. Jochum had prepared to record a stereo Parsifal in the studio for DG towards the end of his life, but unfortunately, the project never came to fruition. Which is a shame, since I'd imagine it could have been one of the most spiritually transcendent Parsifals on record. Perhaps, in his later years, Jochum didn't have the health or energy to conduct such a taxing, long opera (or perhaps Karajan's DG Parsifal studio recording, which was made around the same time, took precedence, with Karajan getting his way). Judging by the quality of Jochum's conducting in his earlier live, 1971 Parsifal from Bayreuth (which is a bootleg), I'd rather have had a DG Parsifal from Jochum than Karajan (though, as noted, I don't dislike Karajan's DG Parsifal, which, by the way, has exceptional digital sound).

    So my own preference list looks something like this:

    1. Lohengrin: Eugen Jochum conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, live at the Bayreuth Festival in 1954, in a mono radio broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIFnV0O3g2s. Despite the less than ideal sound, this is my favorite Lohengrin; alongside Rudolf Kempe's legendary recording for EMI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtl0xI8_MhY. (Jochum's 1952 studio recording with the Bavarian RSO is very good, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIFn...4_QE-3L6SyjBV4.) I'd next recommend Rafael Kubelik's Lohengrin on DG, which is wonderfully conducted & played, as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niF4kyyBqqY, along with two other live Bayreuth performances: Wolfgang Sawallisch's live 1962 performance, on Philips/Decca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrgO3Ting4Y and https://www.amazon.com/Decca-Opera-W...5177212&sr=8-1, and Lovro von Matacic's live 1959 recording, on Orfeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYEVlkUIESk and https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...CABEgK2LvD_BwE. Those would be my top 5 favorite Lohengrins on record. By the way, I also think that Lohengrin (and/or Tannhäuser) makes an excellent (& more manageable) place to start, for newbies, before they move onto Tristan, Parsifal, the Ring, etc.

    2. Tristan und Isolde: Among digital era Tristans, IMO, the two best have been the very first digital recordings made of the opera: (1) Carlos Kleiber's DG recording with the Staatskapelle Dresden, even though not everyone is crazy about René Kollo's Tristan, and (2) Sir Reginald Goodall's Decca recording with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, with the less well known, but wonderful Linda Esther Gray in the role of Isolde (whose promising career sadly was cut short due to health reasons). I also like John Mitchinson's Tristan, and Gwynne Howell's Marke. Both conductors--Kleiber & Goodall--offer such different, contrasting views of the opera: Kleiber's being the more quick moving, fervent, & passionate performance (especially in Isolde's rapturous Liebestod, sung magnificently by Margaret Price), indeed it sounds like a live performance, even though it was made in the studio. While Goodall's performance is slower yet conducted with a strong grip on the overall structure of the work. In other words, I find both views essential towards better understanding the opera. While historically, I'd most recommend the Tristan recordings by Fritz Reiner, Hans Knappertsbush, Eugen Jochum, and Wilhelm Furtwängler. I know others have liked Karl Böhm's live 1966 DG recording from Bayreuth, with Birgit Nilsson in her prime singing Isolde (I actually prefer Price), but I'm less keen on that performance than I used to be (and besides, parts of the opera got cut in places). I've not heard Karajan's 1952 Bayreuth performance, but know that it has a good reputation among Wagnerites. However, I didn't overly care for Karajan's 1970-71 studio Tristan for EMI, finding it a bit drab, plain, & even ponderous. (I've heard that it doesn't begin to compare to Karajan's 1952 Bayreuth performance.)

    The great advantage of Carlos Kleiber's Tristan is that I've never heard a Wagner opera played more translucently and more in tune, as noted, than by the Staatskapelle Dresden under Kleiber, and it comes in superb digital sound, which admittedly helps in that regard. (Plus, it has been recently released on hybrid SACD, too, by Esoteric--which unfortunately is very $$$ now, but worth the splurge, sound-wise, IMO, if you can afford it). In my view, this is the recording that best explains why Kleiber was so highly regarded as a conductor, by other conductors, & more so than some of his other DG & Orfeo recordings, which I don't think always quite deserve the adulation they receive (such as his Beethoven, for instance, especially when compared to the depth that his father, Erich, achieved in Beethoven). But his Tristan does, & for me, this is Carlos Kleiber at his very best!




    https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/1...id_Stereo_SACD

    --Sir Reginald Goodall, Welsh National Opera Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IorK...HDvObfHRuQ7TSe
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...dm_ws_sp_ps_dp

    --Eugen Jochum, Bayreuth Festival, 1953: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-0Lewu3TpQ

    3. Tannhäuser: Like others, my first choice for the Paris version is Sir Georg Solti & the Vienna Philharmonic, on Decca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zIfAwniO4. Unfortunately, the better remastered 24-bit/96kHz 3 CD/Blu-ray release from 2018 appears to have already gone out of print: https://www.amazon.com/Wagner-Tannhä...079499&sr=8-13. Maybe it can be found used?

    As for the Dresden version, Wolfgang Sawallisch's Bayreuth Festival recording on Philips is good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyZlLsBWwbo, as is Franz Konwitschny & the Berlin State Opera Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxt...start_radio=1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxt...&start_radio=1, and among later digital era recordings, I'd probably opt for Bernard Haitink & the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQEg...ZOrUaqZ9vYyb_o. As for Giuseppe Sinopoli's two Tannhausers (on both CD & video), I used to like them, but Sinopoli's conducting hasn't aged well for me. Today, I consider him to be a mostly overrated conductor, who was lucky enough to be given a very great orchestra; indeed he makes some rather odd & IMO, unsound conducting decisions, if you can separate his conducting from the great orchestral playing, especially in his Dresden recordings. Granted, Sinopoli was probably at his best in Wagner (and I do still like him in his two CDs of Wagner Overtures & Preludes that he made for DG; that is, among digital era recordings of these works).

    4. Parsifal: My 1st choice is Hans Knappertsbusch's recording at the 1962 Bayreuth Festival, on Philips:


    Plus, here are some other Parsifals that I've liked:

    --Eugen Jochum, Bayreuth Festival, 1971 (a mono bootleg):

    --Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF0pwSC7qWg
    --Sir Reginald Goodall, Welsh National Opera Orchestra, 1984 (some find this performance too slow, even at times lethargic, especially given the extreme length of the opera; however, I don't dislike the slowness, and am glad to have such a highly detailed, alternative view of the score): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Prf9WjgSUI
    --Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, DG, 1980 (digital): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwakgBNZFR8
    --Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth Festival, DG, 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxpS...FbotXS4qC9j5eo
    --Sir Reginald Goodall, live at Covent Garden, 1971--with Jon Vickers in the title role (some prefer this live performance to Goodall's studio account): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGteEAZlQ9I

    5. Der Fliegende Holländer, or The Flying Dutchmen: Otto Klemperer & the New Philharmonia Orchestra, from 1968, on EMI is my stereo choice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyVR1PFiFug. While my mono choice is Ferenc Fricsay & the Rias Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin, a 1952 studio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AAM8xtiXQI.

    6. Ring Cycle--I don't have a favorite Ring cycle. Among the older mono & analogue Rings--those by Keilberth on Testament (mono), Karajan, Solti, Boulez, and Bohm (live at Bayreuth, with lots of cuts) are worth looking into. But, as previously noted, I do like Karajan's Das Rheingold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFCFq6WWmGE, and Solti's Gotterdammerung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpJL5ET2CoI. Plus, historically speaking, there's Furtwängler's highly regarded (but) mono Die Walküre:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaJBcT-Nqt0
    https://www.amazon.com/Wilhelm-Furtw...5259231&sr=8-2

    I've never heard any of Furtwängler's other live Ring recordings (such as the cycle that he made in Italy), since I've never been overly keen to listen to a whole Ring cycle in poor sound.

    Among digital era Rings, the cycles by Janowski, Sawallisch, Goodall, and Haitink are all worthwhile.

    Janowski's Eurodisc Ring was the first digital Ring to be recorded in 1980, & while he had the Staatskapelle Dresden at around the same time that Kleiber did, Janowski's conducting isn't as brilliant as Kleiber's. However, his conducting isn't bad, either, & the orchestral playing is exceptional.

    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Das Rheingold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXHztH9Pwsc
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Die Walkure, Vorspiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xskyw8NXMgQ
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC2WRklz-9M
    Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden, Gotterdammerung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-JEY1A6YBM

    (If you become interested in Janowski's Dresden set, note that it has been released multiple times, at least four times on CD that I can recall.)

    Among other digital era cycles, Bernard Haitink's 1989 Ring is excellent, with the Bavarian RSO, and for me, may be preferable to Janowski's Ring in Dresden (despite that the Staatskapelle is my favorite orchestra), depending on how you respond to Haitink's conducting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czoesPjr0Aw. Wolfgang Sawallisch's digital Ring in Munich is also good and was videotaped, as well, if that interests you.

    Lastly, Sir Reginald Goodall's Ring cycle at the English National Opera is highly regarded, too, but it is sung in English, which may be a detraction for some listeners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIDLamNobz0.

    By the way, I'd also recommend Deryck Cooke's excellent "Introduction to Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen":


    7. Overtures & Preludes: Among the compilation recordings of Wagner's Overtures & Preludes, I'd most recommend Otto Klemperer & Hans Knappertsbusch; however, Jochum, Kubelik, Matacic, Haitink, and Sinopoli (with both the New York Philharmonic & Staatskapelle Dresden) are all good, too:

    --Klemperer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnQ6R8Y1rqA

    --Knappertsbusch:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaNhNPrgpc4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1ek6_SPgaw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLFb-kDLoo4
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/35353681956...CABEgKvofD_BwE

    This is a desert island disc in my collection: https://towerrecords.com/products/wa...iABEgJfv_D_BwE. While this alternative release, which contains the above & much else, is out of print, but if you can find it at a reasonable price, I'd recommend it: https://www.eloquenceclassics.com/re...nducts-wagner/

    --Jochum:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPxnJoCyCOY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE7AqtQkzsI

    And some more recommendable compilation sets:

    https://www.amazon.com/Overtures-Pre...s=music&sr=1-5

    --"Great Wagner Conductors" (Furtwängler, de Sabata, Knappertsbusch, Eimendorff, Jochum in a 4 CD 'historical' set): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Ii...Jhcpnv9WrZ1xFo. (DG also put out a companion 6 CD set entitled "Great Wagner Singers": https://www.amazon.com/Great-Wagner-...0B7UOOA4&psc=1.)

    Finally, for better sound quality, I've also enjoyed this 2 CD compilation 'highlights' set, entitled "Twilight of the Gods: The Essential Wagner Collection":
    https://music.amazon.com/albums/B001..._phfa_xx_xx_xx
    https://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Gods...00009ON7&psc=1

    (*I'd be remiss not to mention that Goodall, despite being a gifted Wagner conductor, was a Nazi sympathizer in the 1930s and later a holocaust denier, which he referred to as a "BBC Jewish plot". Therefore, due to Goodall's ugly political views, some listeners may wish to avoid his recordings.

    At the same time, I should also point out that, admirably, Hans Knappertsbusch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Eugen Jochum all refused to join the Nazi party, a decision that greatly cost Knappertsbusch in his career (while a conductor like Karajan joined the party twice!). I know, I know, can't we please stay away from the Nazi conversation!! I wish I could, but I'd end up feeling irresponsible & guilty if I didn't point these things out to any newbies, especially since I've just recommended the Wagner conducting of both Goodall & Karajan.)
    As nice a post as I’ve had the privilege of reading and I can hardly disagree with most of it. Once I have digested it I will comment further.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Jul-03-2021 at 21:04.
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    Woodduck--I mostly agree with your (as usual) eloquent points. But I wasn't trying to bring up Wagner & his brand of 19th century anti-semitism. Personally, I see that as a somewhat different (albeit not unrelated) subject to how the Nazis later appropriated Wagner for their own twisted agenda & misinformed purposes, or at least a subject that needs to be addressed separately, at first, in order to understand it more clearly (apart from all the later Nazi associations to Wagner's music).

    But at the same time, if I were someone whose family had been virtually wiped out by the Nazis, & I have known a number of Jews in America younger than myself where that is indeed the case, I don't think I'd necessarily be very keen to buy Wagner recordings by Goodall, Krauss, and Karajan, despite whatever merits these recordings may offer (especially when there are other options of at least equal merit, IMO). & I would personally feel badly if someone of the Jewish faith, with such a tragic family background, were to buy one of Goodall's recordings, for instance, at my recommendation, no less, and then were to later find out about Goodall's ugly past and feel uncomfortable with their purchase (& resent me for not mentioning it).

    No, I agree, it shouldn't necessarily interfere with one's appreciation of the merits of their Wagner conducting; yet, at the same time, I do tend to think that the man, flaws and all, is the artist--that they are one and the same. That's how I see it, generally, across all the arts. (& in regards to Gesualdo, I'd say the man is definitely in his music! despite that I enjoy his madrigali) So yes, I prefer the Wagner conducting of those that saw the Nazis for the vile butchers that they were (Knappertsbusch, Jochum, Furtwängler, Kleiber Sr., Klemperer, etc.), because I actually do find, as it turns out, & not surprisingly so, a greater humanity and understanding and insight in their Wagner conducting. In other words, I think they're better musicians.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-03-2021 at 21:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    Woodduck--All that is well said. & I basically agree with your (as usual) eloquent points. But I wasn't trying to bring up Wagner & his brand of 19th century anti-semitism. Personally, I see that as a somewhat different (albeit not unrelated) subject to how the Nazis later appropriated Wagner for their own twisted agenda & misinformed purposes, or at least a subject that needs to be addressed separately, at first, in order to understand it more clearly (apart from all the later Nazi associations to Wagner's music).
    I'm glad you agree with me in wanting to distinguish between antisemitism and genocide - between Wagner and Hitler. The perennial conflation of them makes Wagner hard to discuss with certain people.

    But at the same time, if I were someone whose family had been virtually wiped out by the Nazis, & I have known a number of Jews in America younger than myself where that is indeed the case, I don't think I'd necessarily be very keen to buy Wagner recordings by Goodall, Krauss, and Karajan, despite whatever merits these recordings may offer (especially when there are other options of at least equal merit, IMO). & I would personally feel badly if someone of the Jewish faith, with such a tragic family background, were to buy one of Goodall's recordings, for instance, at my recommendation, no less, and then were to later find out about Goodall's ugly past and feel uncomfortable with their purchase (& resent me for not mentioning it).
    It's good to care about people's feelings, but people are responsible for their own. It seems to me that anyone who would resent you for not warning them about a deceased conductor's ugly behavior needs to grow up a little. I'm always amazed when adults say, for example, that they must throw away recordings by someone like James Levine because he had inappropriate relationships with minors, although I'd certainly understand the people he victimized not wanting to own examples of his work. Perhaps the holocaust is a special case, and we are not yet far enough from it, but if some people get their way we never will be far enough from it, and the sense of victimization nursed by descendants of those immediately impacted will become a permanent claim on everyone. I'd like to think that "never forget" need not mean "never stop feeling persecuted, being angry and looking for someone, dead or alive, to blame," but that hope comes up against a human resistance to accepting life as it unavoidably is - or, historically, was.

    No, I agree, it shouldn't necessarily interfere with one's appreciation of the merits of their Wagner conducting; yet, at the same time, I do tend to think that the man, flaws and all, is the artist--thyat they are one and the same. That's how I see it, generally, across all the arts. (& in regards to Gesualdo, I'd say the man is definitely in his music!) So yes, I prefer the Wagner conducting of those that saw the Nazis for the vile butchers that they were (Knappertsbusch, Jochum, Furtwängler, Kleiber Sr., Klemperer, etc.), because I actually do find, as it turns out, & not surprisingly so, a greater humanity and understanding and insight in their Wagner conducting. In other words, I think they're better musicians.
    That's an interesting and thought-provoking observation. Neither Goodall nor Karajan is among my favorite Wagner conductors, but of course they are very different and I'd be hard put to say in what way their lives and their art relate. I do, after all, have reservations about other well-known Wagner conductors who were not associated with Nazism in any way ( e.g. Szell, Leinsdorf, Solti and C. Kleiber, whose Tristan I like much less than you do). I do think there's a temptation to want people to be consistent with themselves; we can then entertain the illusion that we understand them, and feel that our opinions of them are more justified. I prefer not to try to make too many connections between artists and their work, and simply to take the work as it affects me on its own. If I know the artist to be a splendid human being, that's dessert after the meal.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-03-2021 at 23:08.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There is nothing "remiss" about ignoring conductors' political views and associations. If you didn't bring them up, many listeners wouldn't even know about them. By mentioning them you implicitly suggest that they should interfere with people's appreciation of music. There are plenty of unpleasant aspects of people's lives which might compromise our enjoyment of their work should we be disposed to dwell on them, but why make an issue of them? Wagner - and Schumann, and Chopin, and Mussorgsky, and god knows who else - spoke badly of Jews, and Gesualdo committed murder, but most of us listen eagerly to their music. Most people, and life in general, mix the good and the bad. If the bad scares you and keeps you from enjoying the good, what sort of life do you have?

    No one needs to worry now about their money going to support Nazi conductors. They are all dead. Buy, listen, enjoy.
    The real question is how we rank their bad person-ness. So Karajan was said to join twice, and since I'm unfamiliar with his personal history I'll assume he got kicked out and rejoined after proving his super-Nazi status. Can a grand wizard of the ku klux nazi party be worse than a murderer? What if the guy Gesualdo killed deserved it, like a child molester or something? Is a mere collaborator like Furt worse than both because he never got kicked out of the party and he never killed any bad people?

    These are the questions that course through my mind in the 2nd hour of Siegfried.

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    I make a distinction between living and dead artists.
    If a despicable artist is alive and would profit from my money i would not buy or buy used.
    If they are dead and gone i would go ahead and enjoy their artistry.

    Stephen Frye who is Jewish and gay and lost relatives in the holocaust, loves Wagner. Of course he's not crazy about his antisemitism, but makes a distinction between Wagner and the Nazis.
    He said, what if the holocaust never happened.Wagner would not be the demon he is today? Would he be viewed the same way He would be stained, but not vilified the same way.
    So viewing it thru history has magnified Wagner's faults
    Imagine if the holocaust didn't happen..
    That's his take not mine. I see his point though.
    Last edited by Itullian; Jul-03-2021 at 23:31.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bz3 View Post
    The real question is how we rank their bad person-ness. So Karajan was said to join twice, and since I'm unfamiliar with his personal history I'll assume he got kicked out and rejoined after proving his super-Nazi status. Can a grand wizard of the ku klux nazi party be worse than a murderer? What if the guy Gesualdo killed deserved it, like a child molester or something? Is a mere collaborator like Furt worse than both because he never got kicked out of the party and he never killed any bad people?

    These are the questions that course through my mind in the 2nd hour of Siegfried.
    Such questions never course through my mind when I'm listening to music. I don't find them very useful at other times either.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-03-2021 at 23:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    I know others have liked Karl Böhm's live 1966 DG recording from Bayreuth, with Birgit Nilsson in her prime singing Isolde (I actually prefer Price), but I'm less keen on that performance than I used to be (and besides, parts of the opera got cut in places).
    An excellent, exhaustive survey. One small point: I don't recall any cuts in the Böhm Tristan, though it's been a while since I sat down with it.
    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    An excellent, exhaustive survey. One small point: I don't recall any cuts in the Böhm Tristan, though it's been a while since I sat down with it.
    There are none. It's complete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Such questions never course through my mind when I'm listening to music. I don't find them very useful at other times either.
    A pity, the international and ubiquitous obsession with race has yielded so much fruit.

    In seriousness though, I have nothing serious to add but will give my essentials:

    Meistersinger - Karajan
    Tristan - Furt
    Parsifal - Kna 62
    Ring - Bohm
    Lohengrin - Kempe

    On a related note, does anyone know of the most complete version of Rienzi that has been recorded?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bz3 View Post
    These are the questions that course through my mind in the 2nd hour of Siegfried.
    Then you need to concentrate more

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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    An excellent, exhaustive survey. One small point: I don't recall any cuts in the Böhm Tristan, though it's been a while since I sat down with it.
    And as I recall, there's only a very small cut in the live Böhm RING, in the third act of Götterdämmerung (Gutrune's brief scene before the arrival of the dead Siegfried). It's otherwise complete, as are virtually all performances at the Festspielhaus, at least since WW2.

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