Christa Ludwig sings Wagner, Brahms, Mahler & Beethoven

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Despite what one might initially think, the best performances here are not the Brahms "Alto Rhapsody" or even the Mahler lieder. No, as great as those performances are -- and they are assuredly among the greatest recordings of those works ever made -- the best performances here are the Liebestod from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and "Abscheulicher!" from Beethoven's "Fidelio." Why? Because as gloriously warm and wonderfully radiant as Christa Ludwig was as a mezzo-soprano in the Brahms and Mahler selections -- and there were few who could match her and none that could surpass her -- Christa Ludwig was, briefly, a soprano of heroic stature and epic strength in the Wagner ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Despite what one might initially think, the best performances here are not the Brahms "Alto Rhapsody" or even the Mahler lieder. No, as great as those performances are -- and they are assuredly among the greatest recordings of those works ever made -- the best performances here are the Liebestod from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and "Abscheulicher!" from Beethoven's "Fidelio." Why? Because as gloriously warm and wonderfully radiant as Christa Ludwig was as a mezzo-soprano in the Brahms and Mahler selections -- and there were few who could match her and none that could surpass her -- Christa Ludwig was, briefly, a soprano of heroic stature and epic strength in the Wagner and Beethoven selections. Thankfully, Ludwig held herself back from going all the way into the soprano repertoire, thereby saving her voice from almost inevitable disaster, and these are among her very few soprano recordings. Still, so searingly beautiful and supremely dramatic are Ludwig's portrayal of Isolde and Leonore, that one almost wishes she had dared transform herself. Yet, as one listens to her achingly sensual and meltingly lovely mezzo in Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhänden gekommen," one can only be grateful for her decision. Mention, of course, must also be made of the supreme conducting of Otto Klemperer. One of the giants of the podium revered for his symphonic recordings, Klemperer's deep, detailed and intense accompaniments here are the ideal context for Ludwig's passionate interpretations, Likewise, mention must also be made of the superb playing of London's Philharmonia Orchestra, surely the finest classical studio orchestra of all time. And, finally, mention must be made of Walter Legge's superlative stereo production. Recording techniques have changed tremendously since these performances were taped in the early '60s, but Legge's sound is still second to none in splendor and magnificence.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/3/2006
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • UPC: 094636159621
  • Catalog Number: 61596
  • Sales rank: 17,838

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Christa Ludwig Primary Artist
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