Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Manfred Jungwirth, Peter Klein, Waldemar Kmentt|
Solti: The Wagner Opera Collection (Limited Edition) [21-CD Box Set with Bonus Unreleased CD]
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Track Listings: Discs 1-3 Der Fliegender Holldnder Discs 4-6 Tannhduser Discs 7-9 Lohengrin Discs 10-13 Tristan und Isolde Discs 14-17 Die Meistersinger von N|rnberg Discs 18-21 Parsifal Bonus CD: The Birth of an Opera (... more »
Listen to Samples
Track Listings: Discs 1-3 Der Fliegender Holldnder Discs 4-6 Tannhduser Discs 7-9 Lohengrin Discs 10-13 Tristan und Isolde Discs 14-17 Die Meistersinger von N|rnberg Discs 18-21 Parsifal Bonus CD: The Birth of an Opera (Solti in rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde)
SUPERB WAGNER COLLECTION
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whew! It took me a long time listening before I feel I am able to review this collection. In a set as large as this Wagner collection, it is inevitable that there will be some 'weak links'. But I am happy to say that in every single opera, including the 'weak links', there is something to look forward to. Der Fliegende Hallander: I think this is the weakest among the 6 operas in the collection. But the orchestral playing is simply fabulous. Listen to the opening where the Chicago orchestra plays with knife-edge precision. Klemperer's Philharmonia (much recommended and praised by Gramophone) sounds like mud in comparison in the opening bars. Interestingly enough, the Penguin Guide rates the Solti more highly than the Klemperer. The vocal performance here is excellent, nothing exceptional. Tannhauser: This is a simply superb performance. Christa Ludwig is incredible in the role of Venus. You have to listen to her to believe it!! Her top notes are secure and warm and her voice is incredibly beautiful and thrilling - the tension and excitement are always there. She is the biggest reason for the success of this set. Helga Dernesch provides a superb contrast to Christa Ludwig. Dernesch timbre is different - brighter and more 'angelic'. She is the other big reason for this tannhauser's success. Rene Kollo has a thrilling voice, he gives an outstanding performance that has been unfairly criticized. Victor Braun also has a rich and thrilling voice. Lohengrin: Jessye Norman's voice here is ravishingly beautiful. It is a warm, noble, light in timbre yet rich. Her top register is incredible. Her characterization has been criticized but I don't care, I love Jessye Norman's voice. Domingo provides a beautiful tone (as usual) for Lohengrin. Unidiomatic? Again, I don't care. His voice is beautiful. Randova and Minsgern are outstanding as Ortrud and Telramund. Hans Sotin and Fischer-Dieskau sing gloriously as the King and the herald. You can't ask for anyone better. Tristan and Isolde: This is the more controversial set in this collection. Contrary to what the Gramophone says, I think this is an outstanding set (the Penguin Guide agrees with me by awarding this set 3 stars). But Birgit Nilsson is splendid as Isolde. Here she is younger and her voice is really cutting. Critics say she is 'hard'. But I think her voice is simply thrilling.In vocal terms, her voice is simply thrilling and wonderful to hear. Fritz Uhl is underrated by critics. In the studio he is up to task. His Act 3 for instance, is sung with just as much security as Windgassen in the Bohm set. Tom Krause, Aronold van Mill and Ernst Kozub are in superb voice - all rich and wonderful to listen to. The orchestral playing is superb - sumptuous and full - you won't get so much orchestra anywhere else - this is unique to this Tristan! This was recorded just one year after Nilsson's triumph at the Met - and shows her voice in pristine condition. Her voice her is more like a sharp sword. As her career progressed, her voice grew in warmth (although no less powerful). It is fascinating (and thrilling) to hear her voice when younger. Birgit Nilsson alone is worth this set!!Die Meistersingers: This is a glorious set. Everyone in the cast provides first class singing - all with rich voices. From a vocal point of view, this set is absolutely gorgeous. From the characterization point of view, this set is less characterful. Many of the principals do not delve deeply enough into their character. But in my view, their vocal splendour makes up for their less insightful characterization. Solti takes a 'linear' approach to the score, tempi flows smoothly. There is less of the sometimes 'vertical' stop-go approach that he applies in his recordings. The Chicago Chorus is outstanding beyond belief. I was flabbergasted by the excellence of the choral work at the end of Act 2. You just have to listen to it. Parsifal: Parsifal is a slow score. I think Solti goes too slow at times - the performance tends to sag in Act 1 again. But he has a superb cast - the singing is incredible. Christa Ludwig's Kundry is again superlative - her Kundry is one of the high points of this set. The Flower Maidens are simply gorgeous - their singing is also one of the high points of this set - Lucia Popp and Kiri Te Kanawa among them!!!! The orchestral playing is superb (as usual). Gottlob Frick is incredible - he is in superb voice, rich and sonorous, amazing considering he was 64 when this recording was made!! He was older than Hans Hotter and there's no hint of strain in his voice!! Fischer-Dieskau can be counted on not only for his rich baritone voice but his superb characterization. Hans Hotter is luxury casting. Rene Kollo is thrilling as Parsifal - his voice is rich and rings out wonderfully. The weakness in this is is Solti's sometimes too slow conducting - it sags from time to time (thankfully not too often). But it is more than made up by the incredible cast on this recording. The choral work is fabulous.In sum, I think this is an outstanding opera collection. In every set, there is something to look forward to. Many of the best Wagnerian singers are here - Christa Ludwig, Helga Dernesch, Birgit Nilsson, Hans Hotter, Gottlob Frick, Rene Kollo etc. Highly recommended."
Part 1 of Comments
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LOHENGRIN ANALYSIS:Lohengrin. My goodness, the singing here is simply gorgeous. Jessye Norman is in superb voice and her voice rings out gloriously throughout the opera. Domingo has been criticized for his German diction. But don't forget that Lohengrin is supposed to be a foreigner. Besides, his beautiful golden tone more than makes up for the unidiomatic diction. With such wonderful singing from Domingo, you just forget any shortcomings with respect to diction and related stuff. Besides, a lot of listeners do not know German (I don't) so they won't really care. Contrary to popular beliefs, Wagner loved beautiful singing. Many will be astounded to know that Bellini was one of his favorite composers. Did you know that Brunhilde's battle cry "Hoyotoho!" HAVE TRILLS WRITTEN IN THEM!!!!! YES!! Birgit Nilsson doesn't sing the trills. Almost no Brunnhilde ever attempts the trills. Only exception is Gwyneth Jones. Yes, contrary to popular belief, Wagner has some elements of Bel Canto written in them. Wagner's music has been subject to much abuse - singers singing it in a rough way. the Solti set shines out for the wonderful legato lines by Domingo, Norman, Randova et. al. It is simply a ravishing performance. No doubt one of Solti's most beautiful Wagner recording. I am not suprised that the Penguin Guide once gave this opera a rosette. Finally, instead of a tenor and a soprano with pressed shrill sound and a forced out tone, we have sensuous, beautiful, gorgeous legato lines - ravishing tone poured out minute after minute, underscored beautifully by the incomparable VPO and Solti's lively conducting - the tempi never sags but Solti never drives the music hard either.More comments on other sets to come in time...."
Part 2: DIE MEISTERSINGER Analysis
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Solti's Die Meistersingers is without doubt one of the best in the catalogue. His conducting is lively and very animated, and all the singers sing very beautifully - they all have beautiful voices. As with ANY wagner opera recording, there are drawbacks. Firstly, the orchestra and singers are really recorded too closely to each other - there is a lack of space in between orchestra, singer and chorus. Secondly, the microphones were placed too close, again, to singers, chorus and orchestra. This has to do with the recording venue - Orchestra Hall in Chicago - which does not allow the singers, chorus and orchestra to be spaced out nicely. So the sound is slightly unpleasant - but you can mitigate that by turning the volume down a little. It does help. Having said that, the digital sound is very full and vivid, all the details are beautifully captured by Decca's engineers. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is absolutely gorgeous - they play beautifully and articulate clearly. Having said that, you notice that the Chicago forces lack something that the Vienna Philharmonic possesses. Call it the X-factor. The Vienna Philharmonic is an opera orchestra - they play under the name Vienna State opera orchestra at the Vienna State Opera. But in concert and in recordings, they assume the name Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Anyway, being an opera orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic certainly knows how to play opera music better than the Chicago Symphony. The Chicago forces, though technically wonderful, lack that extra X-factor in their playing. I think it has to do with injecting emotion into the playing. The end result is that although the Chicago Symphony plays beautifully, the playing is sometimes a bit bland, and you miss the kind of frisson an opera orchestra provides. Mattila sings very beautifully as Eva - she is one of the highlights of the performance. the other highlight is Ben Heppner who is wonderful in his singing and phrasing. Van Dam is excellent as Hans Sachs. All the other principals are never less than adequate although they are a bit detached. Having said all that, this is still one of the best Die Meistersingers in the catalogue. But you have to listen to it over a long period of time before you can appreciate it properly. I only began to really enjoy the performance after spending over a year listening to it (in between other things). But that's only because I listen to tons of other music. I guess if you just concentrate on Die Meistersinger, it might take a shorter time.There's always this talk about the K's in Die Meistersinger - Karajan, Kubelik, Kempe. Well, Kempe is in MONO, Karajan's 1951 performance is in MONO, Kubelik's recorded sound is not very nice - on the hard side. I guess Jochum and Karajan's stereo would be good alternative, but this version can hold its own against those two. Unless you are a Wagner freak (in which case, you should just buy them all), this is perfectly fine as a sole representation of Die Meistersinger in your collection."