- Symphony No. 8 in B minor ("Unfinished"), D. 759
- Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
- Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90: Act 3. Scene 3. Tod und Hölle!
- Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90: Act 3. Scene 3. Mild und leise wie er lächelt
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It was Carlos Kleiber's unique musical gifts that ensured his place in the pantheon of great conductors, but no less singular was his approach to his chosen career. Kleiber, who died in July 2004 at age 74, elected to perform only a tiny portion of the orchestral and operatic repertoire, and to record even less. This guaranteed that every time the conductor entered the recording studio -- which he did only during the decade from 1973 to 1982 -- the result would be a hotly anticipated LP and usually an instant classic. In this memorial to Kleiber, the Deutsche Grammophon label wisely chooses to mirror Kleiber's own focus on the canon of 19th-century German music, including two complete symphonies and the final scene of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde on one generously filled disc. The Wagner excerpt is especially valuable, not just for the conductor's perfect pacing but also for the glistening Liebestod as sung by Margaret Price. In Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony, Kleiber leads the Vienna Philharmonic in a high-contrast performance that wrings every last drop of tension and drama out of the score. Also with the Vienna Philharmonic, Kleiber's recording of the Brahms Fourth Symphony is even more of a classic, combining radiant orchestral sound with the conductor's attention to detail in an eloquently forceful interpretation. Several of Deutsche Grammophon's other Kleiber reissues are just as noteworthy as these, especially his legendary recording of Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, and a heartbreakingly lovely live performance of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier available on DVD. No less than those recordings, this tribute disc makes both a fine introduction to Kleiber and simply a top recommendation for any of these works.