Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
One of the Great Wagner Recordings
Scott Jelsey | Houston, TX United States | 01/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Solti's Tristan und Isolde (1960)is one of the great Wagner recordings, capturing Nilsson at her very zenith, partnered with a most impassioned Tristan, Fritz Uhl. Resnik is the most intense Branganae on disc, with her Act II interjections hair-raisingly beautiful, yet still menacing. Nilsson shows her absolute mastery of this most difficult soprano role, both vocally and dramatically, with Solti proving to to be a more congenial counterpoint than Bohn from 1966, who rushes things along too often. Fritz Uhl is an authentic heldentenor who has a innate feel for the role - his Act III is among the finest on disc. The remastered recording belies its 40 some odd years and sounds quite impressive, with a perfect balance between soloists and orchestra - John Culshaw knew how to produce his Wagner and Strauss! A must have recording for any serious Wagnerite."
The whole performance isn't great, but Nilsson is
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the past recedes and it becomes clear that there will never be an equal to Birgit Nilsson as Isolde, even her second-tier recordings will gain in stature. I think that's already happened with this 1960 set under Solti. It's been considered a warm-up to Nilsson's famous live performance on DG seven years later under Karl Bohm. But in his review below, Mr. Schnall hits every nail on the head: Bohm is rushed and often impatient (he takes 6:19 for 'Mild und Leise' compared to 7:26 here under Solti, by no means going at a crawl). Solti has the far better recording, a feeling for Wagner's richness, and above all the incoparable Vienna Phil., compared to which even the excellent Bayreuth band is an also-ran.
Buying four CDs at full price when the Bohm set comes on three is expensive, and it would help if the rest of the cast were really fine. Fritz Uhl was neither a heldentenor nor a great artist, but there were no real Tristans around in 1960--Karajan was immensely fortunate to find Vickers a decade later, and now we are just as fortunate to have Heppner. But as Mr. Schnall says, Uhl's has a sweet voice; too bad he's sometimes placed too far form the microphones. Nilsson holds back considerably in their Act 2 Love Duet to keep Uhl from being overwhelmed by her voice, and the effect is unusually tender. Uhl's grasp of Tristan's suffering in Act 3 is moving, and overall he acquits himself well (with all his vocal limitations, he sounds more like a young hero than the leathery Windgassen for Bohm).
In all, this set has so many plusses that it makes a very worthwhile purchase and a great memento of the young Nilsson in all her glory."
IT'S ALL VERY PERSONAL
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 10/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is my feeling that with "Tristan Und Isolde", reactions are bound to be very personal and sometimes not understood even by the listeners themselves. The 1952 Furtwangler-Flagstad version is said to be the greatest of all "Tristan" recordings, but there are those who don't respond to it. Many people, as well as myself, who want it in stereo, seem to veer towards the Bohm-Nilsson-Windgassen DGG recording from 1966, though that set has had it's detractors as well. I find this 1960 Solti version somewhat surprising and far better than many would have you believe. Though many have dismissed Fritz Uhl as being an ineffective Tristan, I find him no better or worse than Ludwig Suthaus on the celebrated EMI Flagstad/Furtwangler version. Let's be honest: a tenor who can even passably perform Tristan is a rarity, and Fritz Uhl was probably the only option (Jon Vickers had not yet put Tristan into his repertoire in 1960, and Wolfgang Windgassen was bound exclusively to DGG) Decca had at the time. He requires no real defense------but a Melchior or Vickers he's not (who IS?). Nilsson is in a completely different category. At the time of this recording, she was already acclaimed as the greatest Wagnerian soprano since Kirsten Flagstad, and would remain so for the next fifteen years. Her Isolde became more violent, searing, and refined when she participated in the 1966 Bohm-Windgassen version, but here, in 1960, she is somewhat more generalized, yet vocally awesome. We must remember that when Nilsson made her Met debut a year before this recording was made, she made the front page of the New York Times -- and with certainly good reason. She took the opera world by storm, and wanted Decca that she insisted on recording her complete Isolde immediately, and that is what we have here. If one forgets her incisive work six years later, if only for a few hours, they will be struck dumb by her massive voice as heard here. Despite other's opinions,, I do not find Solti's shaping of this monumental score to be wanting. He manages to make this musical drama work on his own terms. Yes, there are tremendous orchestral climaxes here, and they are very dramatic and exciting. I think that there are many ways to do "Tristan", and that Solti's way surely isn't the only way. Still, Nilsson is truly awesome here, with top B's and C's that jump out of your speakers like a trumpet. It's almost as though she relishes every opportunity to let fly with those lightning notes ---- every note above G is a thrill. But, of course, she had plenty of great sound in the middle and lower reaches as well. Her Isolde of six years later under Bohm was more savage and exciting than here, but the sound wasn't as youthful either. Solti was a great conductor for Nilsson, and as a combination they are in a class by themselves. How well I recall a 1974 "Salome", done in concert at Symphony Center in Chicago, where the two of them together all but made the plaster fall from the walls. I find this to be an excellent representation of "Tristan", and am not in the least influenced by what the "critics" say. If this doesn't please, you, there are certainly many, many other options."