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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have many Wagner recordings, but am a bit light on the great mono historical recordings.

Which are the ones I need to get? Your favorites?

thanks
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are you looking for complete operas, excerpts, or both?
Both, but leaning more toward complete or semi complete recordings.
I know cuts were common back then.
 

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Well, here are a few complete ones I admire (I can comment only on performances, not labels and remasterings):

Dutchman: The 1955 Bayreuth with Kna, Uhde, Varnay, Windgassen and Weber. Uhde is becoming a fetish of mine. He's an amazing singer with a haunted quality in his voice perfect for Wagner's not-quite-normal characters :)lol:), and has the rare ability to express extremes of drama without ever losing vocal focus. Hotter and London were other great Dutchmen on live recordings from that era, but I think this one is special.

Tannhauser: I have no recommendation.

Lohengrin: another strong performance from Bayreuth: 1953, Keilberth, with Windgassen, Steber, Varnay and Uhde. This was a great night for all concerned. Windgassen is not a real Lohengrin vocally, for my taste, but of course he's always an intelligent performer. The others are splendid, with Steber simply beautiful, Varnay wonderfully witchy and powerful, and Uhde the greatest of all Telramunds, as much victim as villain.

Tristan und Isolde: From Bayreuth: 1952, Karajan, with Modl, Vinay, Malaniuk, Hotter and Weber. Really intense and human, even for someone with an aversion to Martha Modl's voice :) (she's a great artist, of course). From Munich: a live performance, 1950, under Kna, with Treptow, Braun, Klose, Schoeffler and Frantz. A very strong performance, with Treptow a surprisingly fine Tristan (I wasn't acquainted with his work) and a chance to hear Kna. Of course there's the '66 Bohm from Bayreuth, which everyone should have already.

Meistersinger: I haven't kept up with this opera on records. I've talked about the '56 Kempe and have been happy with it over the years.

Ring: The Krauss, Keilberth and Knappertsbusch '50s Bayreuth cycles all have their fans. There are many singers in common so perhaps it comes down to your taste in conductors. Then there are the live Furtwanglers from La Scala, and his RAI cycle. One must have some Furty, but casts of both are uneven. La Scala, 1950, has Flagstad. I don't care for the cast on Furty's 1954 studio Walkure (Modl, Rysanek, Suthaus, Frantz).

Parsifal: I've lost count of the number of Knas from Bayreuth. I'm not enough of a fanatic (believe it or not) to try to keep up, though it would be fascinating to trace the changes and continuities from 1951 to 1964. There's also a live Karajan Parsifal from Vienna which is highly regarded as a performance but apparently has rather poor sound. I've made some comments on your "2015 TC most recommended opera CD's and DVD thread": http://www.talkclassical.com/36891-2015-tc-most-recommended-26.html?highlight=parsifal

There are many important historic recordings of excerpts made before it was practical to record the complete operas. Arguably the greatest examples of Wagner singing are to be found there. I'll do another post with some of those.
 

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One problem with historical performances of Wagner is that, as much of the interest lies in the orchestra, much detail can be missed without modern recording techniques. Of the 'historical' performances I have collected, making allowances for the sound:

Mastersingers - Karajan's 1951 recording is terrific, live theatre.

Tristan - Karajan's 1952 recording Woodduck has mentioned and I agree with that. Tends to keep one awake all night if listened to too late into the evening!
Of course, Furtwangler's Tristan also falls into the historical category and is a great example of the conductor's unique way with Wagner even if Flagstaff (imo) sounds a bit past it.

Parsifal - was most disappointed with Kna's 1951 performance even though it has legendary status. So painfully slow. Recommended to insomniacs perhaps? Karajan's 1961 Vienna version seethes with drama and has a stella cast although some may not like the idea of two Kundrys. It must be said that Hoffgen in Acts 1 and 3 is good while Ludwig in Act 2 is fabulous. Sadly the sound is not that good.

The Ring - the Krauss is conducted by a master with a first rate cast. Could be argued it's the best performance on disc but of course the sound is limited.
Walkure - the 1954 Furtwangler must be heard for the conducting even if the cast is not exactly (as recorded) first rate. However, the essential purchase is of the Lehmann / Melchior / Walter recording of Act 1. The orchestra is dim but listen to those voices!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Just one word: Stunning :tiphat:
I heard this on youtube and the sound was horrible. Is that the case?
 
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Tannhauser Sawallisch performances from Bayreuth 1962 and 1961.......both with the black Venus Grace Bumbry! Excellent live sound, great golden era casts not to be missed



Keilberth 1954 Bayreuth, good but not great live sound, very strong male cast and rare chance to hear Gre Brouwenstijn

Spotify Premium
All these albums and much more historical Wagner are available on spotify premium at 312 mp3 streaming, essential service for opera fans!
 

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The great 1953 Krauss Bayreuth Ring available cheap in just OK sound from opera d oro, for big price increase you get a slight sound improvement in new Orfeo remaster, but for 117 euros you get an amazing miracle of sound improvement (that crushes the Orfeo) with Pristine XR ambient stereo remaster.......

Since the US dollar is much stronger now the price is getting much cheaper for USA buyers, Itullian take note......
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·




The great 1953 Krauss Bayreuth Ring available cheap in just OK sound from opera d oro, for big price increase you get a slight sound improvement in new Orfeo remaster, but for 117 euros you get an amazing miracle of sound improvement (that crushes the Orfeo) with Pristine XR ambient stereo remaster.......

Sine the US dollar is much stronger now the price is getting much cheaper for USA buyers, Itullian take note......
Want it.............
 

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I do love the 1954 Jochum Bayreuth Lohengrin, cast is stacked sky high, very good sound that will surprise many

Also like the 1953 Keilberth Bayreuth (mentioned in other posts by Pugg and Ducky) and the sound is also very good in version below I have, Astrid Varney and Uhde great villians



FYI - anytime you see historical wagner opera by ZYX label with artwork similar to above album just buy it, they are insanely cheap and always highly rated performances
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have and love the 54 Jochum Grand Tier......
I'll give that Keilberth a try :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Always love your Wagner posts DA :tiphat: :)
 
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Lohengrin: another strong performance from Bayreuth: 1953, Keilberth, with Windgassen, Steber, Varnay and Uhde. This was a great night for all concerned. Windgassen is not a real Lohengrin vocally, for my taste, but of course he's always an intelligent performer. The others are splendid, with Steber simply beautiful, Varnay wonderfully witchy and powerful, and Uhde the greatest of all Telramunds, as much victim as villain

I don't care for the cast on Furty's 1954 studio Walkure (Modl, Rysanek, Suthaus, Frantz).

.
Well maybe they don't care for you, did you ever think of that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

But really, I don`t see what everyone has against this cast. Modl's voice actually sounds more distinctive on recording than anyone else in the part, and frantz has the darkest, heaviest Wotan and I feel like in the context of this music there's something to be said for that.

Don't forget about Josef greindl's impossibly huge voice in Lohengrin, king Henry is a pretty big part.
 
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I don't care for the cast on Furty's 1954 studio Walkure (Modl, Rysanek, Suthaus, Frantz).
When Leinsdorf's Walkure (the first to be released in stereo) came out the critics were divided between what was considered the better cast and recording on the Leinsdorf and the incomparable conducting on the Furtwangler. As the Record Guide put it: "There is nothing in Leinsdorf's conducting that effaces one bar of Furtwangler's inspired direction."
 
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