Search - Richard Wagner, Berliner Philharmoniker, Daniel Barenboim :: Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Meier, Jerusalem, Lipovsek, Struckmann, Heilmann, Botha; Barenboim

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Meier, Jerusalem, Lipovsek, Struckmann, Heilmann, Botha; Barenboim
Richard Wagner, Berliner Philharmoniker, Daniel Barenboim
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Meier, Jerusalem, Lipovsek, Struckmann, Heilmann, Botha; Barenboim
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (2) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #4


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CD Reviews

Best modern Tristan und Isolde.
Francisco Yanez Calvino | Santiago de Compostela, GALIZA, Spain. | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here we have the typical recording that have friends and enemies quite in the same number. I use to think this happens because of ears that are used to listen some way of playing Wagner and that never use to accept the new ways very easily.

If we speak seriously you can not hear, for example, any other recording with an orchestral playing and response so great and strong like the Berliner Philharmoniker under Barenboim's baton. Of course you can prefer another tempo, another dynamics, another way of understanding the sense of the work, but for me is quite an "objective" criteria that of the orchestral playing, from the technical point of view, a really outstanding miracle of perfection, from the very beginning to the end with the Isolda's death. The Vorspiel of the first act is one of the better music and performing I know, and in some way the key of many changes after his composition in the western music, specially in Germany and Austria, we have only to read about it in Bruckner, Brahms, Mahler, Schönberg, Berg, Webern... words. The way Barenboim conducts this Vorspiel is marvellous, full of mistery, grey premonitions and content passion, taking all the potential of the motive base of the work. The basses of the Berliner are amazing and the climax is so well done that you can finish breathless after the realization of the full score in this part, which ends in a marvellous pianissimo, very well recorded, like the full work, and with the distance voice of the sailor... ¡Outstanding!. And what can we say about the next dialogue between Brangane and Isolde? Perfection everywhere, in the singing and in the orchestral playing... Tension, perfect following the german musicality, vivid tempi...

We can talk about the full opera, vorspiel by vorspiel, act by act, singer by singer. Of course you can prefer other ways of playing this work (Furtwängler is a marvellous complement to have with this version), but in general lines I can say this one of the better opera performances in the last decades and one of the top performing under Barenboim's baton, one of the conductors who understand much more better the german sound and the germanic way of playing music. It's not for me a copy of Furtwängler's version, not at all; all of you who have both versions and listen them carefully know that it's a false idea.

Wonderful libretto and presentation in this Teldec release.
This recording deserves a longer review...
J. F. Laurson | Washington, DC United States | 08/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)


The greatest recording of the greatest opera? Hyperbole, perhaps. But Tristan & Isolde is the finest Opera this side of Don Giovanni and Barenboim's superbly cast and engagingly played account is the best modern recording of the work by all means. His control, attention to detail and development is ever-impressive. More-so, this 1995 studio recording boasts Waltraud Meier, without peer as Kundry (Parsifal), who also excels in Isolde's role like few others. Jerusalem's Tristan is no Windgassen, but he sounds beautiful and holds more than his own against Meier. Mariana Lipovsek is a very distinctive, mature Brangäne while Matti Salminen rivals Kurt Moll's King Marke. Meier's thrilling Liebestod is as good as I've heard any-and her diction is superior to the note-swallowing, if electric Nilsson. Among the many Tristans I have and love, this is my favorite.


Among my Tristan recordings (Furtwaengler, Boehm, Thielemann, Kleiber (Bayreuth), Barenboim) this is probably my over-all favorite. Is Jerusalem's Siegfried the best caught on record? Hardly, but he was in pretty good shape, still. Nor is Lipovsek, no longer young, the ideal Brangaene [I still appreciate her quite a bit in that role]. But the intelligibility of this T&I is stunning. It makes sense in every way, it features Waltraut Meier who is not only one of the best Kundry's (Parsifal) ever, but also one of the finest, if not *the* finest Isolde of our days. Her intelligence in singing is astounding.

Maybe her singing is not to everyones' taste - I know people who will take B.Nielssen over her anytime (admittedly no one is as chillingly sarcastic in Act 1), but I find Meier's Liebestod, for example, the most satisfying I know, slightly ahead of Bernstein's H.Behrens and Furtwaengler's Flagstad (despite patched notes, courtesy Schwarzkopf). Her pronounciation and diction is far better than Nielssen (sure - that isn't everything, but if you like to read along or speak German, it is nice) who has a tendency to swallow whole syllables, at least in Boehm's recording.

At the very least - even after Thieleman's new release on DG - this is the best modern (digitally recorded) Tristan available. The playing and conducting is, for all I care, impeccable. Barenboim is in a league where only Sawallisch and Thielemann have operated in Wagner over the last 20 years. There is still much to be said about other stalwarts... but be assured: If you only have this Tristan in your collection, you aren't bad off at all!"
Barenboim's way with Tristan und Isolde is just fine ...
Pater Ecstaticus | Norway | 11/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For some reasons - which I will try to find below - I have always found Daniel Barenboim's way with Wagner's music the most intellectually gratifying and emotionally satisfying. Case in point is the excellent 'Barenboim/Kupfer/Schavernoch-Ring', my absolute favorite for a recorded Der Ring des Nibelungen, CD/audio-only as well as its newly issued DVD-format. The playing of the Bayreuther Festspielorchester in that 1992/1993 'Ring' is absolutely gorgeous and could never be bettered, only matched, I think.
I have certain 'ideas' about what defines the 'Barenboim sound'. Daniel Barenboim's conducting for Tristan und Isolde may not be as 'sensual' or as 'atmospheric' as some, maybe (take Furtwaengler's mesmerizing 1952 recording), but it is glowingly intense, powerful and utterly dramatic. I believe this nicely dramatic vision is helped (to good effect, in my view) by rather directly recorded orchestra and voices, with just the right amount of reverberation (actually just a little), characteristic of the recording venue, the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic. To me, the result is just fine, sounding nicely 'concentrated', and I do not really understand the harsh criticisms of some reviewers, which I have read elsewhere, that the sound, as recorded, is too 'veiled', or even 'ruins the performance', etc.
I believe that maestro Barenboim strives for massiveness but transparency and coherence at the same time. He maybe achieves this by transparently layering the orchestral voices. This gives a kind of 'organ-like' effect. Also, maestro Barenboim seems to be wanting the most sonorous sounds from all of the orchestral voices or 'registers'. Combined, all of these 'effects' cause the impression of the music sounding approprately massive and stately, while at the same time indeed maintaining a sound that is transparent. A grand but clear-headed vision. A Parthenon or a Pantheon in music. Also, the conductor's tempi are generally exactly right for my own taste: not too fast but always pressing along with the right amount of dramatic tension, which does indeed start from the very beginning, with a darkely forboding Prelude to the First Act.
The singing is generally good, but I especially like Siegfried Jerusalem's dramatic, eager and youthful sounding Tristan (he is also my favorite Siegfried, for the 'Barenboim-Ring'), even if his voice may miss some 'dark and sonorous beauty' (of, for example, a Ludwig Suthaus under Furtwaengler) and - during the last act - some of the necessary utter puzzlement and wildest desperation. But his performance is always completely engaging and captivating. And while Waltraud Meier's may not be the most mellifluous of voices, her Isolde does sound matronly and commanding (compare her Waltraute in the Barenboim Ring), grabbing one's attention from beginning to end, captivating with an astutely dramatic and intensely emotional, warmly sympathetic performance. Singing together, they form a true dream-pair (much like Siegfried Jerusalem's Siegfried together with Anne Evans' radiant Brunnhilde in the 'Barenboim Ring'). Also, the great Matti Salminen is as wonderful as ever, and his King Mark sounds as noble, as emotionally connected and as commanding as one might wish. And Falk Struckmann's Kurwenal evokes the right amount of emotional intensity and connection to his friend Tristan's plight and well-being, so necessary for the dramatic tension during Act Three.
In the end it is this 'studio'-recording (bonus: absolutely no distracting stage or audience noises to break one's attention) of Tristan und Isolde to which I will be turning to the most often (together with the 'benchmark' 1952 Furtwaengler, of course making only a few allowances for the inferior recorded sound), mainly because of Daniel Barenboim and the Berliner Philharmoniker, but also because of captivating (in)tensely dramatic performances by Waltraud Meier and Siegfried Jerusalem. I for one love this recording and I would like to recommend it to anyone else as well. Anyway, if you love this music, you could never really do with just one recording of this opera, I think. In this light, the 'Barenboim Tristan' is a worthy contender to any of the best ever recorded, and worth a place in anyone's collection along the likes of Furtwaengler, Kleiber, Boehm, Goodall, Karajan, etc. But in the end this is all just my own humble opinion."