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I think Both the Tristans on Karajan's very different recordings are really fine - Vickers and Vinay. Modl opposite Vinay strains the ear a bit but is great on characterisation. I just wish Denersch hadn't been ill when she recorded it for Karajan as it might have been even better. As it is she is my favourite Isolde.
Just a mention of Domingo. Of course he never sung it on stage but I have a recording of the love duet Wagner made for concert opposite Voigt. People have cavilled at his German but he sings mighty fine!
Just to make it clear it was not the shade of Wagner but Domingo singing opposite Voigt.
 

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I quite like Domingo's full recording, too. Nina Stemme's a good Isolde (although she's better live than in the EMI studio), Olaf Baer is a fine Kurwenal, Rene Pape a majestic Marke, and there are nice cameos from Rolando Villazon and Ian Bostridge. Although the Covent Garden orchestra isn't as impressive as, say, Welsh National Opera's orchestra under Goodall, I've always liked Antonio Pappano's way with Wagner, and he doesn't disappoint here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
^^^^I enjoy that one too.
 
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I quite like Domingo's full recording, too. Nina Stemme's a good Isolde (although she's better live than in the EMI studio), Olaf Baer is a fine Kurwenal, Rene Pape a majestic Marke, and there are nice cameos from Rolando Villazon and Ian Bostridge. Although the Covent Garden orchestra isn't as impressive as, say, Welsh National Opera's orchestra under Goodall, I've always liked Antonio Pappano's way with Wagner, and he doesn't disappoint here.
Interesting you should say that. One criticism of Goodall was that the orchestra was somewhat provincial. Us the ROH the same?
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
^^^^Thanks Fritz! :)
 

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^^^^Thanks Fritz! :)
Now if I could find sound clips to check out. Is this it, is live performance. Seems the names don't line up except for Gray. However, this may be also a great recording to get ahold of--wait we do have a hold of it, right here, and from bouncing around it briefly, this seems like a gem:
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
^^^^^ Wow! What a fantastic performance.
The singing is superb!
The conducting is perfect. Spacious, intense and beautiful.
The atmosphere is great at this live recording and no intrusive audience noise.
A great recording.
Best conducting since Furtwangler.
Hope it becomes available.
Thanks Fritz! :)
 
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Now if I could find sound clips to check out. Is this it, is live performance. Seems the names don't line up except for Gray. However, this may be also a great recording to get ahold of--wait we do have a hold of it, right here, and from bouncing around it briefly, this seems like a gem:
The youtube you posted is the live 1981 performance in English, whereas the Eloquence reissue you posted about earlier is the studio recording in German, also from 1981. I only own the studio recording myself and had not heard the live one, so thanks for posting, I didn't realize it was on youtube.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 · (Edited)
^^^Goodall has great insights.
Love his approach
 
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^^^^^ Wow! What a fantastic performance.
The singing is superb!
The conducting is perfect. Spacious, intense and beautiful.
The atmosphere is great at this live recording and no intrusive audience noise.
A great recording.
Best conducting since Furtwangler.
Hope it becomes available.
Thanks Fritz! :)
https://operadepot.com/collections/...veasey-shirley-davis-goodall-london-1974-1976

Try this Itullian! I've got it and it's not bad.

https://operadepot.com/collections/...ey-garrard-goodall-mackerras-london-1970-1973

Or this one. Pretty good too.
 
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Can get on CD but also available on free webcast (select webcast under FORMAT). There is also a 5-minute sample track farther down this listing. Sound is decent for a 1936 recording.



Tristan und Isolde
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Chorus of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden
London Philharmonic Orchestra
May 18, 1936

Isolde…..Kirsten Flagstad
Tristan…..Lauritz Melchior
Brangäne…..Sabine Kalter
Kurwenal…..Herbert Janssen
King Marke…..Emanuel List
Melot…..Frank Sale
Young Sailor…..Roy Devereux
Shepherd…..Octave Düa
Steersman…..Leslie Horsman
 

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Head Chin Jaw Organism Font

A couple of months ago, I enjoyed this fantastic rendition of Tristan.
Here are some (not so) brief considerations that I wrote, in Italian, somewhere else and that I try to translate.

That's Tristan's second studio recording, carried out over the course of three days in May 1943 in Berlin, therefore with an atmosphere to say the least heavy. It is the first studio recording that can be defined complete according to the canons of the time: that of Bayreuth of 1928 was quite a wide selection, while this shows only the traditional cut of a large piece of the duet of the Second Act, as per custom.
In my opinion, this Tristan is really astonishing for a variety of reasons. The audio quality is variable: in some points it is remarkable, as fortunately the whole first part of the Third Act, which is probably the top of the performance. In others, as in the final part of "O sink hernieder", there are discrete distortions. Nothing that ruins listening.
However, an electric, agitated atmosphere of marked theatrical prominence is perceived. The reason is easy to say: this incision was based on contemporary theatrical performances at the Berlin Opera. To say, Heger and the whole cast also went on tour in Italy, and they did this Tristan at the Opera in Rome on February 27, 1943. In practice, it is the slavish repetition of a very well-run representation on stage. This explains many things, in my opinion, about his beautiful success.

Robert Heger, the German old sea dog, shows what he was made of with a direction that is a storytelling model. It may be situated, say, halfway between Furtwangler and Bohm. If the great stormy moments have nothing to envy to the former, the rhythm and narration are in all respects those of the latter. The result is a cinematic atmosphere, Old Hollywood style, not too prone to philosophical subtexts but rather eager to give development and dynamism to an opera in which, on closer inspection, nothing happens. And he does it very often. Among the many goodies, I would mention the Third Act again: the most tragic moments of Tristan, accompanied by a flashing orchestra, are interspersed with the consoling breaks of the friend Kurwenal, which vice versa receive a light, relaxed, Weberian instrumental that perfectly paints the character. The Berlin Opera choir, for its part, is excellent as the orchestra. A very nice conduction, very nice to listen to even now.

The cast is one of those miracles that sometimes happen: they know how to sing everyone, or at least manage their parts, and in addition they bring us an expressive involvement by live acting.
For example, Paula Buchner is a seductive-voiced Isolde. Little is known about this Austrian soprano: she was born in Vienna in 1900, and will live until '63. After his debut in 1926, his career had a turning point with joining the Berlin Staatsoper in 1938. He was part of that ensemble until 1949, preferably singing Wagner and Strauss, with also, however, Verdi characters, Puccini (Turandot of course) and Weber. The background is also evident when listening. We have a vocalism of great power and extension, as well as a very beautiful timbre. There is some vibrato problem in the ascending phrases, and this is especially evident in the First Act. The high notes, in any case, are all present at the appeal and also appear easy. Important, however, is also the fact that Buchner's voice is wide and pasty also in the center and at the bottom. The interpreter is lively. She is not an analyst, but we are still in '43. However, this Isolde is a woman full of passion and sacred fire. From certain central phrases, then, something welcome emerges: a stroke of cordial and empathetic affection, which is antithetical to the phrasing of certain dark, crooked and proud frowning declaimers. Buchner's Isolde is not griffin: and this is something I like a lot. Furthermore, she has a diction of spectacular sharpness. She brings the play home with honor and also with some nice emotions.

Max Lorenz however is great. In 1943 he was at the peak of his golden parable, and you will understand it for yourself: hardened steel voice, endless breaths, rocky but smooth centers, thrilling high notes. It is clear how he had become a darling even in a Germany that persecuted Jews (his wife was) and homosexuals (it seems he was, albeit in secret): from above peremptory orders rained never to touch him. In this context, we hear an old-fashioned, but genuinely electrifying Tristan. More modern than Melchior in the declaimed phrases, Lorenz never really avoids singing, apart from a couple of phrases from the Third Act that are fine with it anyway. Whit him and Buchner, the very difficult duet of the Second Act is overcome with a glory of sound that leaves admired. But the Third Act of this Tristan is a masterpiece for this great tenor. The awakening begins with suffocated phrases, sung softly, and above all very human in inflection and accent. As he realizes what is happening, Lorenz's Tristan is getting hotter and hotter, reaching the expressive climax of the "Verfluchter Tag mit deinem Schein!", Cursed day with your light, with an intensity and a truth that made me jump, then overcoming some killer phrases with a metal tempering and a shine that, added to the tragic and boosted accent and with the backdrop of the tumultuous Heger orchestra, remained in my mind. And in the following large and delusional monologues, Lorenz follows the same wavelength. I had not yet heard a Tristan behave in this way: Melchior always sang with the parts very cut and in any case he did not have an accent like that, and Windgassen was very good but, despite everything (that is, despite all, a wonderful success), did not give this feeling of total identification as well as vocal omnipotence.

Jaro Prohaska's Kurwenal, a regular in the role of Wotan and Sachs and here formidably good, also contributes to the success of this great Third Act (in which the Liebestod also goes well, despite some excessive Buchner pitching). Some harshness and vocal discomfort, however expressed within a solid line, do not bother Kurwenal, indeed they are even appropriate. But only if there is an interpreter to exploit them. And Prohaska makes us a true friend of the heart, one who would convince anyone and not only Tristan: difficult to find such a mixture of cordiality and emotion, combined, occasionally, with the impetuosity that really it requires in certain situations of this character.

Margarethe Klose is one of the great Brangane in the history of the disc: very personal and recognizable timbre, rocky vocality, contrasted and varied acting, with a pinch of umbrageous touches à la Ortrud (of which, we remember, she was a remarkable interpreter). His "Einsam wachend" makes history.

As for King Marke and his pontifical behavior, Ludwig Hofmann is truly persuasive. I remembered him quite colorless in other Wagnerian live performances of the time, but here he seems transformed. The terrible monologue starts rightly moved, but does not expire in the gripe, on the contrary it is rippled by continuous variations of accent and intensity that make it much less boring. The phrases with which the singer concludes this remarkable moment are really beautiful, and it's good also his reappearance in the Last Act.

The sailor of the incisive tenor Benno Arnold is good and the Pastor of that fine artist who was Erich Zimmermann, the excellent Mime in Bayreuth 1930s, is even wonderful. Eugen Fuchs' Melot is not pleasant, and rough: but fortunately the character seems to have been written just to do this effect.
 

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How is Barenboim's recording with Jerusalem and Meier?
Superb! It's my go to stereo recording of the opera. Meier is a mezzo so there are a few wild high notes that annoy some, but it's a wonderful set. (There's also a DVD from Bayreuth with Barenboim, Jerusalem and Meier in which is very good too.)

The other recordings I have are a couple with Flagstad and Melchior, the Karajan 52 (very different from the Barenboim, but even more of a wonderful performance) and the Bohm with Nilsson and Windgassen. There haven't been many good recordings of the opera IMO.

N.
 

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How is Barenboim's recording with Jerusalem and Meier?
You won't mistake Jerusalem and Meier for Melchior and Flagstad, but it's still one of the better modern recordings, if only because Jerusalem is a musical and intelligent singer with a reasonably attractive voice. The same can't be said of most of the tenors who've essayed the role since.

My biggest gripe about this recording on CD - and it may have been fixed since the initial release - is that the break in the first act is accomplished with a fadeout rather than a clean break.
 

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I've been listening to the Met broadcast from 1935 with Flagstad and Melchior contacted by Artur Bodanzky. This is, without doubt, despite the cuts and poor sound, one of the greatest performances of this opera I have heard. Flagstad, Melchior, Branzell and Hoffmann are all superb, beautiful voices and very expressive. Bodanzky's conducting is very quick in places but it works because he also leaves moments of great poetry amongst the drama. The liebestod is taken slowly and Flagstad's youthful tone is exceptionally beautiful, lighter than it were to become though seemingly no less powerful. The top Gs are sung with such superhuman power that they really bring home that final release of tension like no other and make a moment which I sometimes find a little underwhelming when performed by lesser sopranos and conductors fully effective.
 
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