Tristan und Isolde: 'Westwarts schweift der Blick'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Frisch weht der Wind der Heimat zu'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Weh, ach wehe! Dies zu dulden'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Auf! Auf! Ihr Frauen! Frisch und Froh!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Herr Tristan trete nah!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Begehrt, Herrin, was Ihr wunscht'
Track Listings (11) - Disc #2
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude
Tristan und Isolde: 'Horst du sie noch?'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Isolde! Geliebte! - Tristan! Geliebter!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Einsam wachend in der Nacht'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Lausch, Geliebter! - Lass mich sterben!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Doch unsre Liebe, heisst sie nicht Tristan und - Isolde?'
Tristan und Isolde: 'So starben wir, um ungetrennt'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Rette dich, Tristan!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Tatest du's wirklich? Wahnst du das?
Tristan und Isolde: 'O Konig, das kann ich dir nicht sagen'
Track Listings (11) - Disc #3
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude - Mässig Langsam
Tristan und Isolde: (Man hoert einen Hirtenreigen)
Tristan und Isolde: 'Kurwenal! He! Sag, Kurwenal!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Hei nun! Wie du kamst?'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Noch losch das Licht nicht aus'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Noch ist kein Schiff zu seh'n!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Bist du nun tot? Lebst du noch?'
Tristan und Isolde: 'O diese Sonne! Ha, dieser Tag!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Ha! Ich bin's, ich bin's, suessester Freund!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Kurwenal! Hoer! Ein zweites Schiff!'
Tristan und Isolde: 'Mild und leise wie er lachelt'
Recorded in performance, but one act at a time so that the principals could sing full-out, this is one of the most electrifying opera recordings of the stereo era. Birgit Nilsson blazes as Isolde, and Wolfgang Windgassen's... more » Act-III evocation of the delusional Tristan is heart-wrenching. Karl B"hm inspires transcendent playing from the Bayreuth forces, and the sound is stunning. --Ted Libbey« less
Recorded in performance, but one act at a time so that the principals could sing full-out, this is one of the most electrifying opera recordings of the stereo era. Birgit Nilsson blazes as Isolde, and Wolfgang Windgassen's Act-III evocation of the delusional Tristan is heart-wrenching. Karl B"hm inspires transcendent playing from the Bayreuth forces, and the sound is stunning. --Ted Libbey
email@example.com | Cambridge, MA USA | 10/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of "Tristan und Isolde" was made live at the 1966 Bayreuth Festival. It was a separate performance, though, designated for this recording, and recorded an act at a time so that the singers would be able to sing "all out" in every act. While the results are not flawless, the compelling drama and power of this "Tristan" are something to marvel at, and in my final rundown this gets the silver medal for best "Tristan."First and foremost is the magnificent supporting cast, by far the best on any recording. Martti Talvela, the great Finnish bass, sings a gorgeous Marke, superbly shaping his long Act II monologue and producing bronze-colored, resonant tone throughout. He is by far the best King on disc. Christa Ludwig sings Brangäne, perhaps the key supporting character, with glorious, creamy tone and deep insight; the finest Brangäne I have ever heard. The supporting cast is rounded out by Eberhard Wächter, a superb Kurwenal, and (luxury casting) Peter Schreier as the sailor. The chorus contributes excellent work.Only slightly below this towering standard are Birgit Nilsson (Isolde) and Wolfgang Windgassen (Tristan). Nilsson's Act I is one of the most magnificent vocal achievements on record. She attacks each exposed high note with total security and perfect intonation, and sings intensely and powerfully, here at least the equal of Flagstad. Her Act II is not as good, though, because here she has to sing softly and beautifully (never her strong points), and while she is admirable, she doesn't evoke that sense of awe at the sheer quality of voice that comes from Flagstad. Her two Act III monologues are excellent, particularly her earlier one ("Ich bin's, ich bin's, süssester Freund"). The Liebestod (or "Verklärung" [Transfiguration] as Wagner would have it) is powerful and harrowingly intense, but again there could be smoother legato and more beautiful tone. I must stress here, though, that this is a live performance; considering that, her achievement here is astounding. She is one of the best Isoldes on disc. Her Tristan is Wolfgang Windgassen. Windgassen was essentially a powerful but lyric tenor; only through his intelligence could he produce portrayals as magnificent as his Siegfried and his Tristan, captured here. He shows himself to be the most liquid-toned of Heldentenors, with a beautiful, soft-toned voice. His voice is not ideal for Tristan (this incredibly taxing role requires a voice of DARK beauty, in addition to a ringing top, neither of which belongs to Windgassen), but what he does with what he has is another matter. His Act III madness is both frenzied and profound, and all the time beautifully sung. It is only in the heaviest passages of all (e.g. when he curses the love potion or his last "Zu ihr!") that I feel a more powerful voice is needed. Windgassen was unquestionably the best Heldentenor at the time of this recording, and is almost as good as Suthaus (Furtwängler) and Vickers (Karajan), who had the huge advantage of recording their performances in a studio.Karl Böhm conducts. He takes fast tempi throughout, and while in the dramatic parts (as in the beginning of Act III, Scene 3) this works magnificently, his fierce approach doesn't work in the more lush, romantic scenes ("O sink hernieder" to the end of the love duet, the Liebestod, etc). He is consistent, though, and I suppose having whip-fast tempi is better in this work than having funeral tempi (like Bernstein), but there is a middle road, which Furtwängler and Karajan take. However, a huge gain resulting from his fast tempi is that the whole opera can be fitted onto three discs, one for each act. Böhm gets very good playing from the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, even if it is not as refined or beautiful as the playing of the Berlin Philharmonic for Karajan or the Philharmonia Orchestra for Furtwängler.Of the three recordings I have heard, here are my verdicts. Karajan (EMI/Angel): gorgeous sound, well-judged tempi, a magnificent Tristan in Jon Vickers - but the final result is decidedly underwhelming: there is none of the essential ardent fire behind the glossy exterior, and Dernesch as Isolde is not nearly powerful enough. Böhm: a fast, intense recording; if at times it is not as lyrical and beautiful as it could be, it is far preferable to Karajan's superficiality. But my first choice is, and will always be, Furtwängler (EMI). He has the best pair of lovers and the best orchestra, and he himself is overwhelming. It will be reissued at mid-price next year, but at the moment is very much full price (about $64). If you're on a budget, get this Böhm recording. It's cheap ($36), exciting, and an excellent introduction to this astounding piece of music. Happy listening!"
The Greatest Recording Of The Greatest Opera
Joseph Kimsey | Pac NW | 01/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though I consider The Ring to be the most perfect work-of-art in music history, Tristan und Isolde is, to my mind, the ultimate artistic experience that a person can possibly experience in a single evening. Every facet of this masterpiece is stunning. From the famous Prelude to Act I that inaugurates the emotional abyss, to the orgasmic Act II, the emotionally shattering Prelude of Act III, and finally the painfully transcendental Liebestod.
I just get chills when I consider the circumstances that surround this music drama. Wagner was reeling from his breakup with the beautiful and talented Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of his patron. Wagner was strapped financially, and near penury. He also encountered the profoundly revealing philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation. All of these events proved to be the necessary catalysts to galvanize Wagner's towering genius into creating something wholly novel in the world of art. Drawing on lost love, philosophical pessimism, transcendental redemption, and an incredible intellect, Wagner forever altered Western music with Tristan.
This Bayreuth performance is flawless. Nilsson is a force of nature. Windgassen is the greatest heroic tenor on disc, and all of the supporting cast is top notch. One really can't say enough about Nilsson. She is phenomenal in the taxing second act; she even manages to outdo herself in Act III.
Bohm's direction is breathtaking; tempos never lag and no element of the orchestra overshadows any other. The Bayreuth acoustics are rightly haled as the most conducive in conveying the texture and richness of Tristan.
Of all of Wagner's artistic innovations, the most consistently maligned is his libretti. I disagree when it comes to Tristan. While my knowledge of German is elementary, if the translation provided is anything to go on, Wagner surpassed himself with this opera. Isolde's farewell aptly describes my feelings about this dark masterpiece:
"In the surging swell, in the ringing sound, in the vast wave, of the world's breath - to drown, to sink unconscious - supreme bliss!""
Bayreuth at its best
Klingsor Tristan | Suffolk | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky enough to be present at the last outing of this Wieland Wagner production with essentially the same cast - the curtain calls went on for more than 45 minutes!
Undoubtedly, this is a totally exceptional performance - one of those live performances that catches fire from the first enigmatic rise and fall to the famous 'Tristan' chord and never lets you go until long after the last note of the Liebestod has died away. Bohm (often accused of being kapellmeisterish at the time) is electric - the music ebbs and flows with the passion of the protagonists, at times whipped up to almost hysterical proportions (Tristan's Act 2 arrival and the height of his dementia in Act 3 for example), at others achingly lonely (Marke's monologue or the shepherd's piping come to mind).
The singing, too, is unsurpassed. Nilsson and Windgassen are in superlative form throughout - Windgassen tired in Act 3? His character is dying, for God's sake - and he certainly rises to the excitements of Isolde's arrival and the ripping of the bandages from his wound. Christa Ludwig sings Brangane's warnings from the tower with a haunting rapture that matches that of the lovers downstage. The much-missed Martti Talvela sings his (presumably huge) socks off as Marke, turning a character who can be a bore into, for his moment, the most sympathetic and moving person in the opera.
I've never got it with Furtwangler and Flagstad by the time of that performance sounded too maternal for my taste. Bernstein is brave and at times fascinating but his cast aren't as good. Karajan is too overcooked and Vickers - often a great Tristan on stage - was too self-indulgent here. Kleiber (who I also heard, magnificently, at Bayreuth) conducts wonderfully and has a beautifully sung Isolde in Margaret Price, but his Tristan is the rather pedestrian Kollo.
For me, this Bohm recording is the yardstick Tristan and a great example of Bayreuth at its absolute best. The engineers capture the unique Bayreuth sound well, too. "
A very fine performance at medium price
Ray Barnes | Surrey, British Columbia Canada | 08/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is easy to complain that Bohm's tempi are too fast for this opera, when a "typical" uncut performance runs about 4 hours and this one goes for 3 hours and 38 minutes. For all intents and purposes this means a reduction of playing time of around 7 minutes per Act. There are moments when one might wish for a more langourous approach, but Bohm does observe tempo changes very consistently. It is much easier to get through this opera, in a live performance (and I have sat through one), with a generally brisk basic tempo. This ensemble of singers and orchestra also performs the Ring cycle at the same Bayreuth summer festival - recorded by Philips - and it is remarkable how similar these recordings are in terms of the balances between the sections of the orchestra, the balance between the orchestra and the singers, and the sound of the instruments themselves. If you listen to the Liebestod and the Immolation Scene from Gotterdammerung, you can hear the nearly identical sound image of the brass section. And surprisingly, the base and treble definition of both performances is very close too, in spite of the difference in recording companies.The performances of the principals in this recording has received mixed reviews. I will simply add that the power of Nilsson is remarkable, whether one likes her voice or not, especially when she was singing Brunnhilde at the same time. It should be noted the supporting roles of Brangane, Kurwenal and King Marke were extremely well taken here; Christa Ludwig's lyrical mezzo was never recorded better and she is a very good vocal match for the powerful Nilsson. The choral contributions are effective too. The recording effectively captures the atmosphere of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, and having each Act recorded complete and uninterrupted on one CD is an ideal presentation. The notes and documentation are well done and the packaging is attractive.All in all, this is a very worthwhile issue and well deserving of the "Originals" label. Strongly recommended."
One of the 20th century's great Isoldas and Tristan as well
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 07/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People become very involved with specific versions of great works and this is especially true of opera. Like people attached to baseball statistics they find this or that specific detail as confirmation of truth or proof of heresy. I take an approach that lets each interpretation speak for itself and allowing for human limitations and imperfections.I mean, how in the world can any one person embody all the ideal possibilities of an archetype like an Isolde or a Tristan. Once you agree to stage the thing you are doomed to fall short, yet you should make the attemp, right?Well, this recording from 1966 is just wonderful. Very good sound and powerful singing. Obviously more powerful than could be done in any single live performance because their voices would give out. As for tempi, slow or fast both have their supporters. For me, this version does NOT feel rushed. That the climactic points are in different places in this version than in another version is not all that important. Does this version work? I believe it does, but another person may not. OK, now what? The point to know is that Birgit Nilsson is one of the two greatest Isoldes of the 20th century, and almost everyone will agree to that. And you can have this treasure in your collection for a few dollars. You should put it there today.Feel free to email me with your thoughts once you have heard this."