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Birgit Nilsson: The Great Live Recordings


Release Date: 09/07/2018 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 88985392322  
Composer:  Béla BartókRichard WagnerGiacomo PucciniRichard Strauss,   ... 
Performer:  Bernhard SönnerstedtBirgit NilssonAstrid VarnayDietrich Fischer-Dieskau,   ... 
Conductor:  Ferenc FricsayEugen JochumWolfgang SawallischHans Knappertsbusch,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony OrchestraBayreuth Festival OrchestraBayreuth Festival Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 31 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Birgit Nilsson was a vocal phenomenon in “a league of her own“ (New York Times). Not even the loudest orchestra could drown her powerful voice.

Unfortunately, there were seldom recording engineers around who had the expertise to do her voice justice, so it was mostly reduced to a “normal” size in the studio. As the celebrated German music critic Jürgen Kesting put it: “Birgit Nilsson in the recording studio is like driving a Porsche in the back yard”.

Fortunately, there are many live recordings which show the “real thing” – a phenomenal, larger-than-life voice. “There’s nobody like her, no other singer I heard in my life”, said Plácido Domingo who partnered her in several performances of
Read more Turandot.

This centenary edition showcases Nilsson in roles where she set a new vocal standard – Turandot, Isolde, Brünnhilde, Salome and Elektra – in exciting performances, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Eugen Jochum, and alongside other great singers like Anna Moffo, Régine Crespin, Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay, Regina Resnik, Franco Corelli, Wolfgang Windgassen, Ramón Vinay, Jon Vickers, Jess Thomas, Theo Adam and Martti Talvela.

Taken in chronological order, these live recordings show the development of the voice of the century: from concert recordings in Stockholm (where her career started in the late 1940s) to great performances at the Met, the Bayreuth Festival and the Vienna State Opera, including the Met’s broadcast of Die Walküre conducted by Karajan, two versions of Tristan und Isolde (Bayreuth 1957 and Vienna 1967), two performances of Elektra(Montreal 1967/Expo and Met 1971) and the exciting Turandot with Franco Corelli and Anna Moffo, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

Despite her legendary “battles” with star tenor Franco Corelli (“Anything you can do, I can do louder!”), Birgit Nilsson was one of a very few singers to be respected by all her colleagues, by conductors and directors and managers. After listening to her live recordings, you’ll know exactly why. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Bluebeard's Castle, Op. 11/Sz 48 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Bernhard Sönnerstedt (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1918; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Notes: Sung in German. 
2.
Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Hermann Uhde (Baritone),
Theo Adam (Bass), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1954 
3.
Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Egmont Koch (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Hermann Winkler (Tenor),
Arnold van Mill (Voice), Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor),
Grace Hoffmann (Voice), Hans Hotter (Baritone), Walter Geisler (Tenor)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1957 
4.
Die Walküre: Act 1: Schläfst du, Gast? by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Ramon Vinay (Tenor)
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1957 
5.
Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c: Heil dir, Sonne! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor)
Conductor:  Otmar Suitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1871; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1967 
6.
Turandot by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Calvin Marsh (Baritone), Frank Guarrera (Baritone), Robert Nágy (Tenor),
Alessio de Paolis (Tenor), Charles Anthony (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Bonaldo Giaiotti (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Franco Corelli (Tenor),
Edilio Ferraro (Voice)
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1961 
7.
Salome, Op. 54 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Walter Cassel (Baritone), George Shirley (Tenor), Irene Dalis (Soprano),
Karl Liebl (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Marcia Baldwin (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1965 
8.
Elektra, Op. 58 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Gerd Nienstedt (Voice), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Regina Resnik (Mezzo Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Danica Mastilovic (Soprano)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906-1908; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1967 
9.
Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Reid Bunger (Baritone), Peter Klein (Tenor), Martti Talvela (Bass),
Jess Thomas (Tenor), Ruth Hesse (Voice), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Harald Pröglhöf (Voice), Anton Dermota (Tenor)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1967 
10.
Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Régine Crespin (Soprano), Theo Adam (Bass), Jon Vickers (Tenor),
Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano), Martti Talvela (Bass)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1969 
11.
Fidelio, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Theo Adam (Bass), Ludovic Speiss (Tenor),
Franz Crass (Bass), Gerhard Unger (Voice), Helen Donath (Soprano),
Siegfried Vogel (Bass)
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome RAI Orchestra,  RAI Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804/1814; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1970 
12.
Elektra, Op. 58 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Robert Nágy (Tenor), Thomas Stewart (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Jean Madeira (Mezzo Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Carlotta Ordassy (Soprano)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906-1908; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1971 
13.
Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Horst Laubenthal (Voice), Bengt Rundgren (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Ruth Hesse (Voice), Jon Vickers (Tenor), Walter Berry (Bass Baritone),
Harald Pröglhöf (Voice)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1973 
14.
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Karl Helm (Bass), Antonia Fahberg (Soprano), Karl Christian Kohn (Bass),
Ingrid Bjoner (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), James King (Tenor),
Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Norbert Orth (Tenor),
Hermann Sapell (Bass), Lorenz Fehenberger (Tenor), Gudrun Wewezow (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914-1918; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1976 
15.
Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Stig Rybrant
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1874; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Notes: Sung in Swedish. 
16.
Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1874; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1973 
17.
Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90: Mild und leise wie er lächelt (Liebestod) by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1967 

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