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Wagner's Tannhäuser: Complete Opera
Richard Wagner, Daniel Barenboim, Jane Eaglen
Wagner's Tannhäuser: Complete Opera
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #3

This vividly recorded new Tannhäuser has much to recommend it. Daniel Barenboim's leadership not only keeps things moving so that the somewhat stilted drama actually takes wing, he elicits some of the most beautiful pla...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Richard Wagner, Daniel Barenboim, Jane Eaglen, Peter Seiffert, Berlin State Opera Chorus, Berlin Staatskapelle, Thomas Hampson
Title: Wagner's Tannhäuser: Complete Opera
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Teldec
Release Date: 4/2/2002
Album Type: Box set
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 685738806423

This vividly recorded new Tannhäuser has much to recommend it. Daniel Barenboim's leadership not only keeps things moving so that the somewhat stilted drama actually takes wing, he elicits some of the most beautiful playing ever from the Berlin State Opera forces: lush strings; pointed, crisp brass; reedy, articulate winds. Thomas Hampson's Wolfram is sensitive and handsomely sung, if on a slightly small scale; Rene Pape is by far the most impressive Landgraf on disc; and the supporting cast is topnotch. Peter Seiffert sings the title role as well as anyone alive today could, but the natural youth and brightness of his voice do not particularly suit the character and his torment. Jane Eaglen's Elisabeth is correctly pure and simple, and equally well sung. Waltraud Meier uses her unimpressive voice well as Venus, underscoring the character's incredible sensuality with her intelligent use of the text. While this set has its excitements, better still is the one led by Sinopoli (with Domingo and Cheryl Studer) or the even older Solti recording (out of print) with Christa Ludwig as the finest Venus available and a very strong cast. --Robert Levine

CD Reviews

A significant contribution to the Tannhauser discography
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When the DG/Sinopoli recording of this work appeared, listeners rejoiced at the beauty and purity of Domingo's singing in the notoriously difficult title role. Here, Peter Seiffert does even better: not only does he have a bright and beautiful voice along with the requisite technique to cope with the part, but he is also a native German with fine dramatic insight, and the combination is simply more satisfying that Domingo's admirable but generalized intensity. In fact, one probably needs to go back to Melchior to hear better singing in this part. Even though Barenboim's conducting exhibits many extremes of tempo, his concentration generally holds things together well. Seiffert's colleagues are all admirable, even if they do not surpass their finest competitors in previous recordings. As Elisabeth, Eaglen does a commendable job in a role that isn't ideal for her, lightening her tone to convey youth and purity, but she is not ideally steady. Meier's Venus, though not especially rich in tone, is predictably compelling. It will come as no surprise that Pape is an impressive Landgraf: one of the best, yielding only to Frick, who can be heard under both Konwitschny (EMI) and Karajan (DG). As Wolfram, Thomas Hampson demonstrates his ever-expanding repertoire and growing richness of voice. His performance here is somewhat in the mold of Fischer-Dieskau (for Konwitschny), both in terms of the slimness of his timbre and his occasionally mannered delivery; a fuller sound and a more natural delivery, such as one finds with Waechter (for Karajan and Sawallisch) or Weikl (for Haitink and Davis on video) are more satisfying. The recorded sound is excellent (distinctly better than Sinopoli's). Barenboim's orchestra and chorus perform admirably, with even more security and splendor than in his earlier Lohengrin. The minor parts are all well taken, too, all of which adds up to a very satisfying performance."
A tannhauser to (mostly) marvel in
sing_for_your_supper | 10/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"as barenboim's wagner cycle draws to its close, here comes one of the most satisfying tannhauser's to be put on disc! the orchestral details are phenomenal and yes, even if barenboim can be slow in the furtwangler mode he never looses the overview on where he is heading to. the sound is spectacular and the final chorus uplifts you in a way it seldom happens on disc! most of the singers fit barenboims view like a glove and most of them are 'germanic' in origin, hence there is (mainly) good diction and attention to the meaning of the text. peter seiffert must rank as one of the most successful tannhausers in a long time, his sound is beautiful while he is expressive and in the end the tormented broken figure that tannhauser becomes. while he hasn't quite the domingo-bloom in his voice (but then domingo's german is so unidiomatic and, beautifully as he sings, his portrayal under sinopoli is painted in water colors - whereas seiffert's is a person of flesh and blood) and sometimes here is a hint of unevenness when he puts pressure on his voice (but never obtusively so), his is an interpretation that shines like a star! none of the other men needs to fear to be outshone though, as they hold up their ends to build quite the strongest male trio all around! next to seiffert there is hampson's hypersensitive wolfram (and his 'abendstern' aria in the last act just grips you by the throat), although an american, his diciton is crystal clear - his wolfram is very much in the dietrich fischer-dieskau mode ... and i think that is praise in itself. rene pape is probably the best of all landgrafs (and no, i am not forgetting kurt moll under haitink!), his every utterance full of meaning and his voice just a gem! so were it only for the men this set would get 6 out of 5 stars!!!!alas, the female side seems somehow undernourished (with the exception of roschmann'a charming sheperd). waltrud meier remains the consummate artist she was and her word pointing is done with great care - she is a believable venus. but the voice in itself lacks the sensuousness needed to understand why tannhauser is tempted by her again and again. furthermore her voice has lost some of its bloom in recent years (many would say it never had any bloom ... but that is personal taste) and her slurring of the notes prevents a crisp diction (just compare her venus here with her ortrud under abbado and you can hear the decline in the voice since 1991). she paints a vivid portrayal, but vocally it leaves alot to be desired.

whereas meier still succeeds through her personality, i have to admit that jane eaglen's elisabeth is a total desaster. her first entrance is squally, her second aria (that wonderful prayer!!!!) flat and inexpressive and throughout the set the cutting edge of her singing and her non existent attention to words or expression make me wonder who decided to cast her in that role?! (but knowing that she is an exclusive teldec artist answers that question ... though it still makes it a scandalous decision, especially as there is such a wonderful german soprano called angela denoke who made such a big impression singing elisabeth in berlin!!!!)so overall this set gives extrem pleasure if you manage to mentally block out jane eaglen. nonetheless: buy it (and skip her arias when listening to it!)!!!!"
An Ultimate Tannhauser
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 07/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like Sinopoli and Solti, Barenboim's rendition of Wagner's 1845 opera is intriguing, attention-grabbing, and groundbreaking. The Staatskapelle Berlin does an amazing job of keeping with the tempi and the atmosphere. The choir's dictions are clear and it is much more passionate than Sinopoli's choir (at least in my opinion). And the overture . . . it sounds so melodious; I can hear it at least three times a day if I want to.

As for the cast, yes, there are some flaws. Jane Eaglen makes up for her disappointing work in Barenboim's "Der Fliegende Hollander". It sounds heavy, as if she is Brunnhilde in "Der Ring Des Nibelungen," But her expression is rock-hard and it is not entirely devoid of feeling. Waltraud Meier may not be the best Venus, but at least she tried very hard. Peter Seiffert has done an incredible job with the role of Tannhauser. It's precise, it's unique, and best of all, it sounds like what Wagner intended. The rest of the cast is solid gold, very stunning in their own way.

Despite some flaws from the cast, this Tannhauser by Barenboim ranks with the finest available. NOTE: This, along with the set by Otto Gerdes, is the Dresden Version. Sinopoli and Solti belong to the Paris Version. If you know the main differences between these two, then add Barenboim to your list. If you do not know the main differences, then I suggest that you listen to the Dresden version first, and then the Paris Version. Keep in mind, though, that while this IS the original version, the second scene of Act One is based on the Paris Version. Otherwise, you'll be able to figure out why Wagner made some changes in the score when showing the opera in Paris."