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There is a solution for Knap lovers to quickly catch up from asian vendors with the Bayreuth Parsifals, complete boxset but still missing is the mythical 55 Parsifal.......perhaps still kept hidden away at Castle Monsalvat (woodduck knows the secret path here)



Tonight I am listening to 51-52 Parsifals, one thought that occurred to me that as great iconic as Neidlinger became singing the role of Klingsor, Uhde gives no quarter and perhaps the best performances we have post 1951 of this role....also great to hear younger Windgassen is such fresh natural voice as the perfect fool

The 1952 is my hands down favourite Parsifal, mainly because for me Mödl is captured beautifully and doesn't sound screechy. I also think its a more lively recording than the 1951. The whole cast is perfection in their roles.

But my taste seems to be different to everyone elses so use with caution :p
 

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The 1952 is my hands down favourite Parsifal, mainly because for me Mödl is captured beautifully and doesn't sound screechy. I also think its a more lively recording than the 1951. The whole cast is perfection in their roles.

But my taste seems to be different to everyone elses so use with caution :p
It would certainly be in my top three Parsifals, if not my favourite (the runners up would be the Barenboim and the Kna 64). Most people like the Kna 62 largely because the sound is better than his other recordings and it is a superb performance. However, I prefer Vickers as Parsifal and Kna is even more magisterial two years later.

The Barenboim wins on sound, but the performance isn't quite up there with the Kna performances. So on reflection that goes into third place. I can't pick a winner between Kna 52 and Kna 64, but they are my joint top picks.

N.
 

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It would certainly be in my top three Parsifals, if not my favourite (the runners up would be the Barenboim and the Kna 64). Most people like the Kna 62 largely because the sound is better than his other recordings and it is a superb performance. However, I prefer Vickers as Parsifal and Kna is even more magisterial two years later.

The Barenboim wins on sound, but the performance isn't quite up there with the Kna performances. So on reflection that goes into third place. I can't pick a winner between Kna 52 and Kna 64, but they are my joint top picks.

N.
And both the 52 and 64 are superior to the more famous 51 and 62 in my book.

N.
 

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It would certainly be in my top three Parsifals, if not my favourite (the runners up would be the Barenboim and the Kna 64). Most people like the Kna 62 largely because the sound is better than his other recordings and it is a superb performance. However, I prefer Vickers as Parsifal and Kna is even more magisterial two years later.

The Barenboim wins on sound, but the performance isn't quite up there with the Kna performances. So on reflection that goes into third place. I can't pick a winner between Kna 52 and Kna 64, but they are my joint top picks.

N.
And both the 52 and 64 are superior to the more famous 51 and 62 in my book.

N.
For Wagner (and whenever possible) I operate a strict no Windgassen no sale policy. Hence why I often disagree with everyone else! I do also like the 1954 Kna but Mödl's performance is my deciding factor.
 

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why no mention of the early 80s Met performance with Moll, Vickers and Rysanek? Not my favorite opera to say the least, but the only performance I know that doesn't make me squirm through the (to me) very kitschy second act.
That should light some fires 😬
 

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why no mention of the early 80s Met performance with Moll, Vickers and Rysanek?
Probably because most people haven't heard it, since it's a Met broadcast from 35 years ago. The Met issued it as a perk for donors of a certain level, and it occasionally shows up on Ebay, but it's otherwise unavailable, since the Met guards its broadcast legacy like Fafner guarding his hoard.

It is indeed a great performance, and one of the best Act 2's I know - the only other one that's close is the Barenboim recording with Meier and Jerusalem, but the other acts in that recording aren't so hot.

There's also a great Met broadcast from 1979, with Vickers, Christa Ludwig, and Martti Talvela.
 

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too dear

Probably because most people haven't heard it, since it's a Met broadcast from 35 years ago. The Met issued it as a perk for donors of a certain level, and it occasionally shows up on Ebay, but it's otherwise unavailable, since the Met guards its broadcast legacy like Fafner guarding his hoard.

It is indeed a great performance, and one of the best Act 2's I know - the only other one that's close is the Barenboim recording with Meier and Jerusalem, but the other acts in that recording aren't so hot.

There's also a great Met broadcast from 1979, with Vickers, Christa Ludwig, and Martti Talvela.
It's ('85 Levine) available on Amazon, but badly overpriced, I'm not sure where I got mine but certainly paid substantially less somehow. Probably looked hard, which is occasionally fruitful and often a waste of time.

I don't know how to reconcile ear-habit with independent assessment, once I had Kurt Moll in my ear from the von Karajan/DG recording, I never recovered.
 

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i added (but it disappeared) that there are 2 of the Met '85 on Amazon, not difficult to find but terribly over-priced, which comes to the same thing. I somehow found one much cheaper or I wouldn't know either.
Doesn't Kurt Moll resonate, physically and metaphysically, as Gurnemanz in a way no else does? He's a singer I travelled specifically to hear, glad I did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #215 ·
I agree about the sonics, however I've been reading through the whole of this thread and others complain about the dynamics...

N.
I don't like the dynamics either. One minute you can barely hear and the next you are blasted out of your seat.
 

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I listened to BBC Radio 3's Building a Library podcast on Parsifal as well as Die Meistersinger and yet again the reviwer recommended the Kubelik, which is on the Arts Archive label. unfortunately it's even harder to find than the Meistersinger.
 

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I’ve just finished listening to one of the most intense and moving performances of Parsifal I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

30 October 1982
Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris.

Amfortas Bernd Weikl
Titurel Kurt Rydl
Gurnemanz Kurt Moll
Parsifal Siegfried Jerusalem
Klingsor Hermann Becht
Kundry Leonie Rysanek
Gralsritter Louis Devos, Jean-Marie Fremeaux

Choeurs et Maîtrise de Radio France
Orchestre National de France Conducted by Marek Janowski

The singing is never less than good with the exceptions of Kurt Moll who is beyond wonderful, Bernd Weikl who is very fine as Amfortas and Siegfried Jerusalem who is both ardent and terribly moving as Parsifal in a part that requires great concentration to keep that required level of intelligence between the acts. He needs to be a different person in each act and he carries this out beautifully. If he has a fault it is that when he pushes the voice hard he has a slight tendency to drift off pitch. Leonine Rysanek is a very involved Kundry but I don’t think she is in her best voice. Marek Janowski paces the opera wonderfully well and conjures magic from the orchestra. I followed this with a score and his use of emphasis at crucial passages is just glorious. As I mentioned Kurt Moll is a transcendent Gurnemanz and delivers a spell-binding performance.

As anyone who has read any of my posts knows I am a card-carrying atheist but I found this a terribly moving experience that at times had me in tears. A lot of that comes from personal loss - my father died on Good Friday thirty nine years ago so Parsifal has a resonance for me that can, on occasion, be a bit overwhelming. If you can track this down I can highly recommend this recording. Btw I should point out that it is a concert performance and not a staged opera performance.

If anyone is interested it is available from a company called Operapassion.com.
 

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I've been listening to different recordings of Parsifal recently and I have read through the entirety of this thread. My opinions have changed somewhat since my comments here.

Those who have pointed out that Wagner wrote the opera for Bayreuth with the particular acoustics of that theatre in mind know what they are talking about. I have been fortunate enough to see Parsifal at Bayreuth and it's a totally different experience there. I have only seen the opera four times despite having had the chance to see it more often, but I'm only interested in seeing it with a conductor and/or a Kundry who can do it justice or seeing it in Bayreuth. My first Parsifal was at the ROH because I had never seen it and it had a good cast. I've seen it twice with Waltraud Meier, which I traveled to Germany to see. The second time was with Barenboim conducting and that was one of the greatest performances of anything I have ever seen aywhere. The last time I saw the opera was at Bayreuth and you could say that Parsifal is an opera written for the instrument that is the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Therefore, at least one recording from Bayreuth is essential IMO.

I was surprised to find that from my recent listening the best all round recording is the Kna 62 with Irene Dalis one of the best Kundrys. No, I'd go so far to say that most Kundrys are unsatisfactory and that the only singers who could produce the many facets of that character vocally are Ludwig, Modl, Meier, Callas, Dalis and Ericson. Kna understood the work like no other. Some may prefer his earlier, slower performances (52 is to be preferred over 51 and is possibly Modl's best Kundry), but I can't be without Vickers' Parsifal and so the 64 is also necessary for me.

One of the interesting things about the comments here is that the title role is not the one that people in general buy recordings for. Gurnemanz stands out as needing the right interpreter and I would argue that there's a case for renaming the opera Kundry. However, it is possibly the conductor that is the most important element here. Of the live recordings without Kna, the only one that I feel is really worth something is the Gui due to the pairing of Callas and Christoff who are both superb in their respective parts. Yes, it's cut to shreds and would never be a first (or sole) choice, but the cast is really rather good (in addition to Callas and Christoff, Panerai isn't chopped liver as Amfortas).

I've always been a fan of the Barenboim among the studio recordings, but as someone has pointed out above, whilst act two is wonderful, the outer acts aren't up to the same level and Holle is a rather plain Gurnemanz. My favourite Gurnemanz's are Frick, Christoff and Hotter with Moll somewhere behind them (yes, his is the most beautifully sung, but he doesn't have the gravitas of those previous basses).

I had always discounted the Solti as I'm not a fan of his Wagner as much as I'm not keen on Kollo, but he has such a superb cast and he's not as bombastic as he could be. His is a dramatic pacing of the work that is very different from Kna's, but that works on its own terms. Ludwig is possibly the best Kundry of all and has the perfect mix of dark dramatic mezzo and bright steel that puts her in the same camp as Callas, Modl and Meier, whilst not having technical limitations. Frick is possibly my favourite Gurnemanz, he has it all.

The only other studio recording I consider worth having is the Barenboim (Meier and Jerusalem are really superb as Kundry and Parsifal and Van Dam is my preferred Amfortas.)

There are two that are often lauded, but they are let down by weak casting and disappointing conducting. Like most people I can't get on with Vejzovic's Kundry. Her conception of the character changes with each line she delivers. Kundry is complex and we should get a range of different Kundrys - the sultry, the tigress, the long suffering, but each of these personas needs to come along at the right time. With Vejzovic one line she is one and then in the next she's a completely different woman. I get the feeling the role is beyond her vocally and she is singing for survival here. That's surprising as I very much like her Ortrud which someone has posted above. Moll sings beautifully and I understand why some consider him the best Gurnemanz (and therefore rate the Karajan or the Kubelik so highly), but I would like more substance to my head of the Grail knights. The main drawback to this set, though, is Karajan's self reverential conducting. It's not just that it's slow, but that he doesn't use that extra time to produce anything meaningful. Kna and Barenboim take time to let the music organically grow out of its own material. Karajan is just revelling in the sound of his orchestra.

Kubelik is a different beast, you can tell he really cares about this music and he knows his craft. However, I find his version is neither one thing nor another. His cast is weak. Minton is too light a mezzo to really get down and dirty as Kundry and Weikl is totally forgettable. Moll is fine, but lacks oomph, as does this version overall.

Overall recommendation:
Kna (Thomas, Hotter, Dalis) Bayreuth 1962

Mono Live:
Gui (Callas, Christoff, Panerai) RAI 1950
Kna (Windgassen, Weber, Modl) Bayreuth 1952

Studio Stereo:
Solti (Kollo, Frick, Ludwig) VPO
Barenboim (Jerusalem, Holle, Meier) BPO

N.
 
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