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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Kurt Moll, Werner Götz, Anton Dermota
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #4

A lot of ink has been spilled about child prodigies like Mozart, but little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of the late bloomer. Clearly Wagner belongs to the latter group: had he died at 50, with the premiers ...  more »


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All Artists: Kurt Moll, Werner Götz, Anton Dermota, Eberhard Büchner Wolfgang Hellmich
Title: Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: 10/25/1990
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPC: 028941331526

A lot of ink has been spilled about child prodigies like Mozart, but little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of the late bloomer. Clearly Wagner belongs to the latter group: had he died at 50, with the premiers of Tristan, Meistersinger, the Ring, and Parsifal before him, he would be considered only a musical middleweight. Tristan marks his first fully mature work and establishes Wagner as a composer of the first rank. This digital recording from the early 1980s features a good, experienced cast. Rene Kollo is nearing the end of his effective career, but turns in a workmanlike performance, while Margaret Price sounds fresh and young. During his career, Maestro Carlos Kleiber has not competed with Herbert von Karajan or Georg Solti in the number of his recordings, but the quality of his output has always been among the best, and here he offers an exceptionally delicate orchestral reading. --Christian C. Rix

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CD Reviews

Best Modern Recording!
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 10/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For me, there is only one definitive recording of this Wagnerian masterwork, the famous Furtwangler reading of it with Kirsten Flagstadt...there are other good Tristans but none that quite gets to the heart of this turbulent and yearning score quite like the Furtwangler. However, that recording is from the 50s, and in the prehistoric era of sound technology. As a result some of the marvelous subtleties of Wagnerian orchestration are missed on the recording, and most people will want a modern recording. As far as modern recordings go, this Carlos Kleiber session from the 80s is just about the best one you can get. Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is titanic. It is monumentally difficult for the singers and a revolutionary work of musical drama. The orchestral role in the drama is for the first time elevated to match that of the singers. The mastery with which Wagner approached his material is astounding. As a result, more than in most operas, the conductor of Tristan is of paramount importance. Kleiber is masterful in this reading. From the opening notes of the Prelude, the atmosphere drips with longing Kleiber is neither too languorous, nor too rushed in this music. He allows the phrases to shape themselves naturally. During the climaxes he whips the orchestra up to a frenzied pitch, but is still able to change moods on a dime. The dark opening of the third act alone is worth the price of this CD. Not since the Furtwangler recording, have I heard this work so completely bleak and understated. Most conductors try to emote in every measure of the third act prelude. Kleiber lets the music be and the effect is even more powerful.The singing is mostly good on the CD. Rene Kollo's voice shows some strain, and indeed his career was only to last a few more years. But he is still a marvelous singing actor, something that is much more important in this role than often thought. Margaret Price is a wonder.... fierce in the first act and radiant in the last two. Her "Liebestodt" (a misnomer if ever there was one...Wagner called it the Verklarung) is every bit as powerful as Flagstadt. Fischer Diskau is virile, as the Kurneval role calls for if not quite as much as in his first recording, and Birgitte Fassbaender's Warning in the second act is ravishing...Brangane's one moment to really shine in the opera. As King Marke, Kurt Moll is fine, but I've rarely heard anyone do a Marke as affecting as Rene Pape's recent Marke at the Met. Moll's Marke comes across as an impotent nice guy, but doesn't have the depths of heartbreak that Pape has shown are present in the role. There are many, many competitive versions of Tristan to be had. However, in modern recordings I would recommend this above even the von Karajan Tristan, partly because Kleiber is a more exacting conductor than von Karajan ever was, and partly because the Dresden players are just not the sloppy musicians the Berliners can be. (It's not often said aloud, but it's true...take a score of any work and following along with a von Karajan/Berlin performance. You'll see how truly sloppy it all is. Sometimes the interpretations mitigate this...but not always.) So if you want just one Tristan, and you want modern sound, this is the disc to get. Hence five stars. But keep in mind...there are not enough stars at Amazon to award the Furtwangler recording!"
Almost ethereal
S Duncan | London | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one review where I do not feel the need to elaborate too much on the work because of what has been already written. In particular, thank you to the very honest reviewer below from Calgary, Alberta, have said largely what I would have said. Moreso, it was that particular Amazon review that led me to make this purchase. I therefore read exactly what I needed to hear.In summary, Kollo is not fantastic (the wobble is ungainly) but you can get used to him and grant him his idiom with relatively little difficulty. I would add that Fischer-Dieskau's Kurwenal wasn't to my taste either. He does "bark" a little too much. On EMI for Furtwangler he was splendid but I only say that by comparison...not to advocate the Furtwangler recording.For me, THIS recording has made a phenomenon out of what had previously been just too BORING. I had previously owned the well-touted Bohm recording and I just HAD to get rid of it (gave it away). Not even for Christa Ludwig's sake would I keep it. Shocking as it may sound, I can't stand the Nilsson/Wagner combination...or any other Wagner combination with a 'meat-and-potatoes' sounding soprano, for that matter (the "immortal" Flagstad included). It's too heavy. Wagner has too commonly been portrayed as heaving, lumbering, pedantic pieces of work with a good deal of 'intellectual' disussion on precision in tow. Well I find the "tireless" Nilsson to be TIRESOME. There, said it. For me, Birgit's best work was Elektra, but not here.The Price/Fassbaender exchange is netherworldly. Rapturuously sung by two BEAUTIFUL voices and full of emotion and character. The roles are excedingly convincing. Price is very much the young, noble but vulnerable Irish princess. Both performances are very real without being overdone. "Mild und Leise" on a still, clear night under the stars weaves a ritual of rapture in death. The clear...and I do mean sound makes you feel like a god personally witnessing a human drama. Every note from Price or Fassbaender seems like an evocation.I kneel before Carlos Kleiber for his impeccable judgement and wonderful imagination. The music swirls and flows...yes, as one reviewer said, it evokes the very image of the dark water pictured on the cover. No mud here though. Excellent achievement."
A Very "Lyric" Interpretation
Christopher Forbes | 01/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let's face it: most of us just can't accept the fact that Wagner lived in an era of lyric voices for opera. Thus, he wrote for the lyric voice. He also wrote for an accompanying "lyric" orchestra. It is only after his death that we begin to see lyricism converted to what has become known as the dramatic voice, especially the so-called dramatic soprano, very deep and very powerful. Likewise, the orchestra played Wagner very loud and, sometimes, at very fast tempos, to emphasize the dramatic stage action and libretto. In this recording, Carlos Kleiber has very carefully crafted what must surely be the original, and thus authentic, approach that Wagner intended.The result is astounding, in comparion to other interpretations. This is truly a monumental interpretation of a monumental work. Kleiber brings out orchestral colors and hues that have been hidden or overlooked by others. Margaret Price, at the time of this recording, one of the finest lyric sopranos ever, sings like a bird. No one, not even Flagstad, Nielson, Dernish or today's Isolde-of-choice, Jane Eaglan, sings this role as beautifuly as Price. Rene Kollo is a wonderful, lyric Tristan. Kurt Moll, as King Marke, is smooth as silk and quite convincing. The orchestra is wonderful. To top it off, the recording is technically flawless. For those of you who wish to hear this great work as it was intended to be heard, you need look no further. For others who have many recordings of Tristan, and have seen it performed at the opera house, this addition to your collection will fill it out to completion and add yet another dimension to this work, the high water mark in romantic musical composition. A word of caution: this interpretation is so powerful and moving that it may take you some time to recover from its intoxicating effect. After listening to it, be prepared to spend time alone or with someone appreciative of Wagner's contribution to art and thereafter let the impact slowly dissolve within the events of the day."