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Well my friends, we've reached the last of Wagner's great operas and I have to admit I'm a bit sad about it.

Parsifal was first conceived in 1857 but Wagner didn't finish it until 25 years later. It was his last completed work.

It is loosely based on an epic poem by Wolfram von Eschenbach about the Arthuran knight Parzifal and his quest for the Holy Grail.

Wagner described it not as an opera or music drama but as "A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage".

It was only played in Bayreuth until the Met staged it in 1903.

A tradition evolved in Bayreuth where there is no applause following the first act.

It has some of the most sublime music ever written.

It has many fine recordings, live and studio.

So, for the last of these Wagner fun threads,
What is your pick/picks for Wagner's final masterpiece?

I want to thank you all for participating in these threads.
It has been a great pleasure doing them. :)
:tiphat:
 

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I have only the Knappertsbusch '51 Bayreuth and the Karajan studio. Also Act II of the '38 Leinsdorf live Met broadcast with Melchior and Flagstad.

At some point I really should get the Kna '62. But right now, the Kubelik sits at the top of my Parsifal wish list. That may be my number one pick overall.
 

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My three favorites, want to focus on 53 Krauss which has nearly the same cast as bayreuth re-opening 51 Knap with greatly improved sound thanks to Pristine XR. Krauss has one of the fastest times of any version but nothing seems rushed here, a shame we do not have more wagner work by Krauss beyond Parsifal and 53 Ring

Vinay is in excellent voice as Parsifal combining beauty and reverence, and while some may think brunnhilde a stretch for Modl, as kundry she is right in her highly dramatic comfort zone, a distressed character deeply anguished that has been cursed to serve a dark master until the perfect fool shows her the power of compassion, Uhde captures all the dark currents and weakness of the fallen knight Klingsor, much to admire here for sure
 

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The Kubelik, a wonderful recording that shamefully sat in the vaults for a couple of decades in order to clear the field for the less successful Karajan. Uniquely beautiful performance of Gurnamanz by Kurt Moll in a role that usually falls third on the list of credits but that you listen to by far the most in a performance so is the one I think is most important for a successful production. One of my favorite performances of the title role by King, a sadly underrated tenor who conveys both the youthful innocence of Parsifal in Act 1 and the power and the weariness in Act 3, and a very good performance as Kundry by Minton. Solid work by Weikl and Mazura. Kubelik conducts this with that perfect rapt stillness (without being draggy or inert the way Goodall or Levine is) that makes for such a magical Parsifal. That Kubelik had both this and the outstanding Meistersinger recording suppressed by abysmally stupid record labels for decades is really a crime, and I wonder how many more Wagner recordings we might have had from him had those been released and gotten the plaudits he deserved at the time.

Then the classic Knappertsbusch performance from 1962. My first Parsifal and the only one I owned for quite a while. Hotter is noble and insightful throughout, although his voice has seen better days and it was a bass role where Hotter is a bass-baritone so some of the low notes are a little vague. A good performance from Jess Thomas as Parsifal, a role I prefer a more heroic voice in but he's lovely, and one of my favorite Kundrys in Irene Dalis. Poor work from London as Amfortas but Neidlinger is a terrific Klingsor. Kna conducts as the representative for the lost German Romantic tradition--there's some spotty ensemble work but much magic and beauty.

The Barenboim is held back a little bit by the decent but not great Gurnemanz stylings of Holle. Otherwise excellent though, Meier and Jerusalem are both terrific, and Van Dam delivers my favorite Amfortas on record (although I may slightly prefer Peter Mattei, but that criminally underrecorded artist hasn't been recorded in any Parsifal except for the Gatti video from the Met). Van Dam is a little less fresh than when he recorded the role for Karajan but is perhaps even more committed and affecting. Wonderful.

The Armin Jordan was a recording made specifically for the Syberberg film of Parsifal. Syberberg was originally planning to use an existing recording as soundtrack, but the Wagner family was displeased with his film about Winifred Wagner so they barred him from doing so. Lucky for us because this is a surprisingly excellent recording. Armin Jordan wasn't known as a Wagnerian but he delivers an excellent performance here. One of my favorite performances as Gurnemanz from Robert Lloyd, still very early in his career and his voice is in excellent condition. Minton repeats her very good Kundry, and Reiner Goldberg has one of his better recorded performances here as the title character. The Amfortas and Klingsor is forgettable and the band and chorus is second rate, but this is a real contender.
 

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The Kubelik, a wonderful recording that shamefully sat in the vaults for a couple of decades in order to clear the field for the less successful Karajan. Uniquely beautiful performance of Gurnamanz by Kurt Moll in a role that usually falls third on the list of credits but that you listen to by far the most in a performance so is the one I think is most important for a successful production. One of my favorite performances of the title role by King, a sadly underrated tenor who conveys both the youthful innocence of Parsifal in Act 1 and the power and the weariness in Act 3, and a very good performance as Kundry by Minton. Solid work by Weikl and Mazura. Kubelik conducts this with that perfect rapt stillness (without being draggy or inert the way Goodall or Levine is) that makes for such a magical Parsifal. That Kubelik had both this and the outstanding Meistersinger recording suppressed by abysmally stupid record labels for decades is really a crime, and I wonder how many more Wagner recordings we might have had from him had those been released and gotten the plaudits he deserved at the time.
Moll and King do wonderful work as Gurnemanz and Parsifal, I was initially concerned that Minton would be a lightweight Kundry and not be able to capture the dramatic torment and anguish fully, but she surprised me and was quite good really

Agree we definitely needed more wagner by Kubelik judging by the excellence of his few recordings

The Armin Jordan was a recording made specifically for the Syberberg film of Parsifal. Syberberg was originally planning to use an existing recording as soundtrack, but the Wagner family was displeased with his film about Winifred Wagner so they barred him from doing so. Lucky for us because this is a surprisingly excellent recording. Armin Jordan wasn't known as a Wagnerian but he delivers an excellent performance here. One of my favorite performances as Gurnemanz from Robert Lloyd, still very early in his career and his voice is in excellent condition. Minton repeats her very good Kundry, and Reiner Goldberg has one of his better recorded performances here as the title character. The Amfortas and Klingsor is forgettable and the band and chorus is second rate, but this is a real contender.
I guess we can overlook some minor details :)
 

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I have heard this but I'm not sure it is correct. The Kubelik was recorded by Bavarian Radio I believe, not DG, and was issued by Arts later as was his Mastersingers.
This was a studio recording made by DG, Kubelik was a DG artist. It was with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the band that Kubelik led at the time.

You may be mixing up stories with Meistersinger, which wasn't a studio recording but was a performance for broadcast radio. That broadcast tape was offered to DG to release and they were initially interested, until Fischer-Dieskau threw his weight around to prevent a competing release from DG at the same time.
 

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This was a studio recording made by DG, Kubelik was a DG artist. It was with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the band that Kubelik led at the time.

You may be mixing up stories with Meistersinger, which wasn't a studio recording but was a performance for broadcast radio. That broadcast tape was offered to DG to release and they were initially interested, until Fischer-Dieskau threw his weight around to prevent a competing release from DG at the same time.
Yes I know about Mastersingers. Whether it was D F-D who was the 'villain' or whether it was just that DG didn't want two competing versions released at the same time I don't know.
But was the Parsifal actually made by DG engineers for release by DG? Seems unlikely if they had Karajan's version in the offing that they would want to make another at the same time?
 

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Yes I know about Mastersingers. Whether it was D F-D who was the 'villain' or whether it was just that DG didn't want two competing versions released at the same time I don't know.
But was the Parsifal actually made by DG engineers for release by DG? Seems unlikely if they had Karajan's version in the offing that they would want to make another at the same time?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsifal_discography

"Originally recorded for Deutsche Grammophon but never released, it is now available on the Arts Archives label."
 

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This was a studio recording made by DG, Kubelik was a DG artist. It was with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the band that Kubelik led at the time.

You may be mixing up stories with Meistersinger, which wasn't a studio recording but was a performance for broadcast radio. That broadcast tape was offered to DG to release and they were initially interested, until Fischer-Dieskau threw his weight around to prevent a competing release from DG at the same time.
As far as I can see, both Meistersinger (1967) and Parsifal (1980) are studio recordings made by Bayerischer Rundfunk and were never released on DG. This is nothing unusual - the German national broadcasting companies who are financed by a sort of "radio tax" always had a lot money and made thousands of studio recordings with classical music. The only Wagner opera Kubelik recorded for DG was Lohengrin.

Infos about the BR Parsifal (in German) here:

http://wagnerportal.de/cd/opern/parsifal-1882/parsifal-national/muenchen-1980-kubelik/
 

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As far as I can see, both Meistersinger (1967) and Parsifal (1980) are studio recordings made by Bayerischer Rundfunk and were never released on DG. This is nothing unusual - the German national broadcasting companies who are financed by a sort of "radio tax" always had a lot money and made thousands of studio recordings with classical music. The only Wagner opera Kubelik recorded for DG was Lohengrin.

Infos about the BR Parsifal (in German) here:

http://wagnerportal.de/cd/opern/parsifal-1882/parsifal-national/muenchen-1980-kubelik/
Must confess this appears more likely. Of course, it might have been recorded by DG engineers for Bavarian Radio but would DG have recorded it with the intention of releasing it at the same time as their much vaunted Karajan set? Seems unlikely.
Similarly the 'conspiracy theory' over the Kubelik Mastersingers appears unlikely as Kubelik was recorded in 1967 and Jochum nearly 10 years later.
Of course, nothing effects the value of the recordings one way or the other.
 

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Must confess this appears more likely. Of course, it might have been recorded by DG engineers for Bavarian Radio but would DG have recorded it with the intention of releasing it at the same time as their much vaunted Karajan set? Seems unlikely.
Similarly the 'conspiracy theory' over the Kubelik Mastersingers appears unlikely as Kubelik was recorded in 1967 and Jochum nearly 10 years later.
Of course, nothing effects the value of the recordings one way or the other.
Not to forget that DG had recorded Parsifal in 1970 with Boulez, so Kubelik would have been their third version within 10 years. If the name of the sound engineer is mentioned in the Arts Archives booklet (I don't have it), you can easily find out who made the recording.
 

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Must confess this appears more likely. Of course, it might have been recorded by DG engineers for Bavarian Radio but would DG have recorded it with the intention of releasing it at the same time as their much vaunted Karajan set? Seems unlikely.
Similarly the 'conspiracy theory' over the Kubelik Mastersingers appears unlikely as Kubelik was recorded in 1967 and Jochum nearly 10 years later.
Of course, nothing effects the value of the recordings one way or the other.
http://super-conductor.blogspot.com/2007/09/from-vault-battle-of-meistersingers.html
http://super-conductor.blogspot.com/2010/01/cd-review-lost-parsifal.html
https://www.opusklassiek.nl/cd-recensies/cd-pk/pkwagner_parsifal01.htm
http://www.norpete.com/op3144.html
 

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Again, "Also highly regarded is a recording of Parsifal under the baton of Rafael Kubelík. Originally recorded for Deutsche Grammophon but never released, it is now available on the Arts Archives label."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsifal_discography

The page you guys are citing doesn't even contradict this, all it says is that it was in the Bavarian Radio vaults.
One is questioning whether Wiki is right. Was it scheduled for release on DG or is this an assumption? Where do they get their information?
 

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I have found an interesting forum with endless debates about the Kubelik BR recordings and their (non-)connection with DG.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=1499.80
One interesting quote:

"the first eye catching thing you see are photos of Karajan and his wife in bikinis in their yacht" :lol:

This sort of rumour mill has gone on for ages. There are people who want to speculate endlessly about it. Does it matter? We have the recordings now.
 
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