Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

by Wilhelm Furtwangler
     
 

With Tristan und Isolde, Richard Wagner (1813-83) created opera's most sublime romantic tragedy, a combination of erotic intrigue, philosophical profundity, and musical perfection that enchants listeners. Unfortunately, singers are so horrendously tested by the composer's demands that the tenor the role of Tristan was written for collapsed and died shortly…  See more details below

Overview

With Tristan und Isolde, Richard Wagner (1813-83) created opera's most sublime romantic tragedy, a combination of erotic intrigue, philosophical profundity, and musical perfection that enchants listeners. Unfortunately, singers are so horrendously tested by the composer's demands that the tenor the role of Tristan was written for collapsed and died shortly after the opera's 1865 premiere. This perhaps explains why, in 1952, EMI entrusted the role of Isolde to Kirsten Flagstad, the supreme Wagner soprano, who was not long from retirement. Flagstad validates her claims to immortality by singing an absolutely stunning Isolde, full of the majesty and incandescence many sopranos can only aspire to. Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, just a few years from his own death, is the perfect Tristan conductor; in the "Liebestod" he and Flagstad reach heights of musical inspiration that have to be heard to be believed.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Wilhelm Furtwängler's 1952 EMI recording of "Tristan und Isolde" with the Philharmonia Orchestra is a gold standard among recordings of the opera. The integrity of his vision and his command of the opera's large structural elements make this a version that is widely admired by listeners who love the opera. Although his reading is never rushed, and is notable for its moments of sensuous languor, for the most part, and the opera has rarely sounded so impetuously and freshly imagined. The opening of the Prelude is a marvel; its primal rawness perfectly sets the stage for the searing drama. Isolde's Act I monologue and Marke's Act II monologue lack energy and are Furtwängler's least effective moments, but they are more than compensated for by the blazing intensity of the "Love Duet," the anguish of Tristan's yearning in the third act, and the ecstatic resolution of the Liebestod. Kirsten Flagstad made the recording late in her career, when she was in her late '50s, and while her voice doesn't have the youthful bloom ideal for Isolde, her vulnerability and tenderness, her subtle musicality, and the immense warmth and dignity of her exceptional voice make her an Isolde for the ages. Ludwig Suthaus never had the weight of a heldentenor of the first water, but his is an entirely respectable Tristan, fully capable of negotiating the staggering demands of the role, and his characterization is musically intelligent and nuanced. Blanche Thebom's "Brangäne" is radiant, and her warning in Act II is one of the highlights of the recording. The young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is a vocally powerful Kurwenal, and his characterization is sharply etched. Josef Greindl sounds underpowered as King Marke, and comes across as more pathetic than really grief-stricken. The members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, who beautifully follow Furtwängler's lead in their impassioned playing, are also stars of the performance. The variety of colors they produce, from the practically Medieval sound of the opening notes of the Prelude to the lushly Romantic passion and warmth of the second act, is remarkable. The sound is vintage, but is full, clear, and vivid. The general high level of the performance, particularly the outstanding work of Flagstad, Furtwängler, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, make this a version of the opera that should be of strong interest to any Wagnerian.

Read More

Product Details

Release Date:
04/06/2004
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0724358587326
catalogNumber:
85873
Rank:
218247

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90  - Richard Wagner  - Wilhelm Furtwangler  - Richard Wagner  - Rhoderick Davies  - Edgar Evans  - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  - Kirsten Flagstad  - Josef Greindl  -  New Philharmonia Orchestra  - Joan Sutherland  -  Royal Opera House Chorus Covent Garden  - Rudolf Schock  - Ludwig Suthaus  - Blanche Thebom  - D.H. Lawrence

Read More

Album Credits

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >