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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Furtwangler, Flagstad, Suthaus

Release Date: 09/11/2001 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 67626   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Kirsten FlagstadDietrich Fischer-DieskauLudwig SuthausBlanche Thebom,   ... 
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden ChorusPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 4 Hours 16 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This nearly-50-year-old performance still retains its status as a "classic", and the digital remastering that would appear to be the raison d'etre for its current release is splendid: the original LPs were engineered in a fashion that blended voices and instruments into a murky mish-mash, and the re-mastering for CD, while helpful, was not ideal. Now, the mish-mash is more like a voluptuous wash: Isolde's lament right after Tristan's death is a case in point--we are now properly overwhelmed by the sheer outpouring of grief coming from both orchestra and soprano, rather than wondering where our attention should be placed; and elsewhere, Furtwängler's absolute understanding of precisely how to wed orchestral fabric to vocal Read more line has never been clearer.

As to the performance, Flagstad (with Schwarzkopf's high Cs), though sounding (like it or not) somewhat matronly for the youthful Isolde, does not miss a vocal or dramatic trick, and remarkably, at her advanced age, she could keep up with Furtwängler's leisurely tempos. (Just for the record, and to offer perspective, Furtwängler takes almost 35 minutes longer with the score than Böhm.) Ludwig Suthaus is neither as potent as Melchior nor as insightful as Windgassen, but his is still a superb Tristan, filled with passion of every kind. His ravings in the final act--helped immeasurably by the fabulous Philharmonia's mirroring of his feelings--are correctly unbearable. The young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Blanche Thebom remain equally impressive and Josef Greindl is imposing as Marke.

We could quibble: Take for example Furtwängler's surprisingly inflexible pacing of the Narrative and Curse (compare it with Böhm's or even Barenboim's, the latter even with the appalling Waltraud Meier), and occasionally the huge, drawn out arc of the opera seems like it needs a bit of a kick to get it moving; but still, if you don't know this recording, you don't know Tristan.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com

This set includes the full libretto in German, French and English.

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Works on This Recording

Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad (Soprano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Ludwig Suthaus (Tenor),
Blanche Thebom (Mezzo Soprano), Rudolf Schock (Tenor), Josef Greindl (Bass),
Edgar Evans (Tenor), Rhydderch Davies (Bass)
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1952 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 255 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: German 

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