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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Böhm, Nilsson, Windgassen

Release Date: 11/11/1997 
Label:  Dg The Originals Catalog #: 449772   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Wolfgang WindgassenChrista LudwigBirgit NilssonMartti Talvela,   ... 
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival OrchestraBayreuth Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 39 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I don't think these CD transfers much alter my opinion of the performances except, if possible, to enhance my liking for the live 1966 Bayreuth issue. The pleasure, almost privilege, of being present at what was undoubtedly a memorable, electrifying night in the theatre, with everyone giving of more than their appreciable best, is in all ways preferable to the somewhat manufactured feel of the studio version conducted by Karajan, however many delights this may give, at times, in terms of sheer sound. In any case, I find Böhm's interpretation dynamic and incandescent, more idiomatic than Karajan's; ironically enough Karajan's own live performance, from 1952 Bayreuth, came much closer to Böhm's later rendering there. Both conductors Read more were obviously inspired by working in that opera house to provide that extra fire and spontaneity.

DG's cast is also superior to EMI's. Nilsson brings more fire to Act 1, greater involvement to Act 2, and is inspired in the Liebestod. Dernesch is encouraged by Karajan to sing many beautiful legato phrases and is often tender in her phrasing, but much of the time she seems pallid and neutral beside Nilsson caught live. There is nothing at all neutral about Vickers's overwhelming Tristan; his searing performance will be a good enough reason for many to obtain the Karajan version. Nobody, not even Suthaus for Furtwängler (also EMI), is quite so terrifying in Tristan's Third Act madness. But, on repetition, the slight exaggeration can pall. Windgassen, with smaller resources and hardly less involvement, is in the long run more moving in these long soliloquies, and his plangent reply to Isolde after Marke's Monologue is something to treasure in its phrasing and eloquence. Ludwig is in better voice and more naturally placed in the Bayreuth 'set. There is little to choose between the two splendid Kurwenais, but the young Talvela's Marke is one of the two or three greatest accounts of his music on record, moving in the extreme and liable to make you think his music is the most inspired in the whole work. Schreier's Sailor, common to both versions, is a model of how the role should be inflected.

The superiority of the DG is finally clinched by the fact that it appears on three CDs (one less than other versions) with an act per disc, and it has an English translation with the German text. The EMI booklet has only the original German. All the other CD sets have a great deal to commend them, in particular Bernstein's on Philips (though this is spread over five discs) and the classic Furtwngler, but choice, if it has to be a single set, is for Böhm.

-- Gramophone [7/1988]
reviewing the original CD reissue of this performance, DG 419889
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Works on This Recording

Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Martti Talvela (Bass), Eberhard Wächter (Baritone), Claude Heater (Tenor),
Erwin Wohlfahrt (Tenor), Gerd Nienstedt (Bass), Peter Schreier (Tenor)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1966 
Venue:  Live  Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, Germany 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude. Langsam und schmachtend
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Westwärts schweift der Blick"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Frisch weht der Wind der Heimat zu"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Weh, ach wehe! Dies zu dulden"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Auf! Auf! Ihr Frauen!"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Herr Tristan trete nah!" - "Begehrt, Herrin, was Ihr wünscht"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 1: "Tristan! - Isolde! Treuloser Holder!"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: Prelude
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Hörst du Sie noch?"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Isolde! Geliebte! - Tristan! Geliebter!"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Einsam wachend in der Nacht"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Lausch, Geliebter!"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Doch unsre Liebe, heißt sie nicht Tristan und - Isolde?"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "So starben wir"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Rette dich, Tristan!"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "Tatest du's wirklich?"
Tristan und Isolde / Act 2: "O König, das kann ich dir nicht sagen"

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Sensational- Deserves 10 Stars! July 20, 2013 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Tristan and Isolde pushes the limits of even Wagner's own aesthetic vision of the orchestra's role in modern opera. Here the music is not simply an accompaniment to the singers; it is in fact a leading element, shaping and controlling the dynamics of the action and even establishing the psychological ambience within which the singers can achieve above and beyond what should be reasonably expected. Karl Bohm's incendiary and famous recording from the 1966 Bayreuth Festival is a perfect example of this. To start with, Bohm worked with a wonderful festival orchestra that played its heart out for him and the cast. As far as the singers are concerned, Wolfgang Windgassen's Tristan, Martti Talvela's King Mark, Christa Ludwig's Brangane, and above all Birgit Nilsson's Isolde set a standard which I doubt can be surpassed. Bohm's steady vision and firm control of all forces steadily builds to an abolutely apocalyptic, hair-raising Act 3. All one has to do is listen to Windgassen's agonized, searching, troubled exposition as the wounded, dying Tristan, leading to Nilsson's breathtaking performance of the concluding Liebestod as Isolde joins her beloved in immortality. This Tristan and Isolde was recorded live at Bayreuth, and I can only imagine the emotionally exhausted condition of the Bayreuth audience at the end. The same effect can easily be sensed by what is contained on these magnificent disks. I submit that this Tristan and Isolde is a recording for the ages, one which any self-respecting Wagner fan should own in his or her collection. Highest recommendtion!!" Report Abuse
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