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What's your favorite Tristan und Isolde?

  • Barenboim: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Chor der Berliner Staatsoper

    Votes: 2 4.1%
  • Bernstein: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Chorus (1981 live recording)

    Votes: 4 8.2%
  • Bodanzky: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus (1938 live recording)

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • Böhm: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1966 live recording)

    Votes: 10 20.4%
  • Furtwängler: Philharmonia Orchestra, Chorus of the Royal Opera House

    Votes: 16 32.7%
  • Goodall: Welsh National Opera Chorus & Orchestra

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • Karajan: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1952 live recording)

    Votes: 3 6.1%
  • Karajan: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus

    Votes: 2 4.1%
  • Kleiber: Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Radio Chorus

    Votes: 5 10.2%
  • Pappano: Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra, Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • Reiner: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus (1936 live recording)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Solti: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,Vienna Friends of Music Society Chorus

    Votes: 2 4.1%
  • Stein: Buenos Aires Teatro Colón Orchestra & Chorus (1971 live recording)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Thielemann: Chorus & Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera (2003 live recording)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 4.1%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What a treasure trove of recordings that we have for this opera! So many stupendous recordings that highlight different facets of this immense work that's it's almost impossible for me to choose only one...indeed, I don't think I could live without at least 5 or 6! As much as I was tempted to go with one of the early recordings despite their primitive sound that feature Melchior and Flagstad in their prime because they are both complete, supreme interpreters of these roles, in the end I couldn't vote against Furtwängler's commanding interpretation here, truly the standard all other recordings are measured against. :)
 
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I am going to toss a hand grenade in here and state this:
While I am not an opera fan by and large, I do appreciate some. That being said, of all the Wagner operas which I have heard (the Ring cycle, Tannhäuser, Parsifal, Lohengrin, die Meistersinger, T & I), Tristan und Isolde is my least favorite. I find it tedious, overwrought, and just agonizingly, painfully far too long and repetitive. How long do you have to drag out a bloody death scene for crying out loud?

I'll retreat to my corner now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
:kiss:
I am going to toss a hand grenade in here and state this:
While I am not an opera fan by and large, I do appreciate some. That being said, of all the Wagner operas which I have heard (the Ring cycle, Tannhäuser, Parsifal, Lohengrin, die Meistersinger, T & I), Tristan und Isolde is my least favorite. I find it tedious, overwrought, and just agonizingly, painfully far too long and repetitive. How long do you have to drag out a bloody death scene for crying out loud?

I'll retreat to my corner now.
If you don't get it, you don't get it I suppose. Sorry! :kiss:
 

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Though I myself recommend the studio Furtwangler and I would expect it to come out on top, I would urge you to explore the live performance of Flagstad in the 30's (the 36' Reiner and 37' Bodanzky). There you have Flagstad in her artistic and vocal prime, plus there was Melchior as her partner.

Also the forget the 50' Knappertsbusch with Treptow and Braun.
 

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I'm looking forward to hearing multiple opinions and viewpoints here... for me, the Furtwangler is the gold standard overall so that gets my vote. However, I find Bohm electric.... the '52 Karajan with Modl is full of passion I just had some audio issues that annoyed me, but I will go back. Same with '37 Bodanzky Tristan; sound quality was difficult for me to get past but since I've listened to many more historical era performances, I suspect I would have a better time when I revisit.

Final plug; Pristine recently released the MET 1960 Bohm with Nilsson and Vinay. Sound quality excellent, Nilsson sings splendidly.
 

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Furtwängler has been my favorite for a long time. However, I recently tried Bernstein's rendition, thanks to a suggestion that Pugg made several weeks ago, and it is rapidly climbing to the top of my list.
 

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I voted for my imprint one - the Bayreuth Böhm, but I do like the Kleiber and Karajan and I now need to listen to the 1960 Met Böhm mentioned by the Chef.
 

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My two favorite recordings of this opera both come from 1952, and are both remarkable yet so utterly different: the studio Furtwängler and the live Karajan. Furtwängler may very well be the most significant figure in the history of Wagner interpretation, and here he delivers a spacious, deeply compelling interpretation that is still to my mind unmatched in its tragic intensity and in it's ability to submerge the listener into this hypnotic world. Neither of the leads were young, and they don't sound it, but they both have great voices, and under the inspired guidance of Furtwängler they surpass themselves. This is especially true of Suthaus, whose Tristan has a depth and intensity, together with accuracy in pitch and rhythm, which make him unique in recordings of this demanding role. Flagstad sounds mature, but also inward with the role, and manages the whole range of Isolde's feelings in Act I, which has a hardly bearable tension in this recording. I also can't think of a better warning to the lovers by Brangäne than the one from Blanche Thebom and Furtwängler here, becoming a miracle of sensuous translucency.

On the Karajan recording from Bayreuth, Martha Mödl simply is Isolde, and with her the character is brought to life, complete and complex, more than in any other account on record. Vinay is a noble and tormented Tristan and suffers movingly in Act III. And Hans Hotter starts off shaky as Kurwenal, but soon becomes the role's most moving and convincing exponent. Karajan conducts with fire, volatility, and an abandon that makes this completely unlike the kind of performances he was giving decades later. There are plenty of inaccuracies, one or two near-disasters, and quite a lot of stage noise to be sure. But this is an indispensable set.

I also really like the Carlos Kleiber studio effort which is passionate, almost feverish. My own slightly idiosyncratic view is that the recording under Reginald Goodall is also one of the finest, as far as conception of the work is concerned, and up to a point even in execution. Tempi are slow, but never feel it. Goodall shapes the acts with all the certainty that Furtwängler achieves, and he has in Linda Esther Gray a most moving Isolde. John Mitchinson is a stolid but reliable Tristan. However the point is with conducting on this scale, the love duet, which lasts for more than forty-five minutes, is shaped in one overpowering arch, leading to a climax the likes of which I haven't heard elsewhere -- this despite the deficiencies of the Welsh National Opera orchestra.
 

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I have never listened to the entire Tristan at one time, nor do I ever think that I will, but it is an opera that I (very) occasionally sample. Recently I did spend some time with 3 versions, Furtwangler, Goodall and Pappano and I would call it a tie, but only in a statistical sense, each has strengths and, to my mind, weaknesses. On balance I am most likely to listen to Pappano although I really like parts of what Goodall did and I like Linda Esther Gray.
 

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I have the version by
Karajan 1 and 2
Furtwangler
Kleiber
I got them to try and help me love this music rather than admire it. All have their merits

The Karajan performance from Bayreuth is probably the greatest ever recorded. It is so intense and probably was the experience Wagner intended. Karajan had to helped out of the pit after apparently. However, it is not brilliantly recorded and is a one off experience to wonder at. For a version to live with I'd choose the later one with Vickers and Denersch
 

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Very tricky. I opted for the Carlos Kleiber, but it was a very close call between that recording and those of Furtwängler, Goodall and Böhm - I wouldn't be without either. Kleiber just about nudges ahead because of the excellence of the sound, and for Margaret Price's ethereally beautiful Isolde - her only rival in that respect being Linda Esther-Gray for Goodall. Böhm and Kleiber tie for having the best Brangänes on record, and I marginally prefer the older Fischer-Dieskau as Kurwenal for Kleiber over his earlier (too young-sounding?) assumption of the rôle for Furtwängler. On balance, I'd take the Tristan of René Kollo over Suthaus, Mitchinson and Windgassen. All the recordings are pretty much on a par when it comes to the rest of the cast, although the bitter-sweet tragedy of King Mark has rarely been conveyed better than by the noble tones of Gwynne Howell in the Goodall recording.
 

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And it gets even better with Pristine XR sound (hint hint) :)

Until Pristine XR does one of the Flagstad Isoldes from 1936-41 period, I am joining my fellow wagner lemmings here with 52 Furtwangler studio version. Hard to believe how great this version sounds now, there is no restraint by Kirsten here compared to her live versions and if the voice has diminished it is surely by only the smallest margins. Furtwangler is glorious and masterful topping all the orchestral efforts of 1936-41 period, other wordly sound at times fully revealed by Andrew Rose

I listened carefully to 52 Karajan again, but despite some passionate singing and music making both come up short to the 52 Furtwangler, perhaps my perceptions are changing some last couple years since I am big fan of 52 Karajan.

If I am super critical and picky I could say that Suthaus/Flagstad are much older sounding couple, not the youthful romantics you may have pictured in your imagination, a trivial point when such greatness is before us
 
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