There is rapture in every measure of Carlos Kleiber's reading of this score, sometimes of the transcendent, gentle type, sometimes of the manic, ravishing sort. The string playing during Tristan's last-act rantings is almost terrifying in its intensity; an act earlier during the Love Duet the accompanying and singing is legato and Italianate in a way no other conductor seems to manage. Tempos tend to be swift, but there's no sense of rushing--Kleiber allows the music to pitch and swell in a most organic way, enabling the story to unfold inevitably and naturally. His lovers are clearly involved in an intimate tragedy.
Margaret Price, who never sang Isolde on stage, was a superb Mozartian, Straussian, and sometime Verdian. TheRead more voice is ripe but never strained, and always beautiful; if you've only heard "Wagnerian" sopranos in this role, Price will surprise and seduce you. René Kollo sounds impetuous as Tristan--mostly youthful but with an occasionally unfortunate bleat--and his delirium is vivid and painfully honest (I don't mean this as a critique). Fischer-Dieskau's Kurwenal is over-emphasized--hardly a phrase escapes a crescendo and diminuendo. Brigitte Fassbaender varies between sounding overparted and quite lovely. And Kurt Moll's Marke is pretty overwhelming: his long monologue begins at a whisper and then builds and wanes, involving us entirely. The rest of the cast, as well as the orchestra and chorus, are excellent. In this early-1980s recording the singers get a great deal of help from the engineers, who boost them whenever necessary.
Having heaped all of this praise, I must add that true Wagnerians, myself included, may feel a bit short-changed in the sheer power department: Price and Kollo seem lightweight compared to the likes of Nilsson, Flagstad, Mödl, and Vickers or Suthaus, and you could argue that Kleiber's hugely vigorous account of the score lacks the gravitas of Furtwängler or Karajan, or the sure-footed intensity of Böhm. But there's no way to seriously take issue with this set; it's a beautifully conceived and executed performance.
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!"
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Desert Island TristanNovember 25, 2011By Christian Withers (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"While I love the classic, critically acclaimed recordings by Furtwangler and Bohm, if I had to choose only one recording of this opera, it would be this one. It does have its minor quirks, and Kollo is not my favorite Tristan. But after years of loyalty to the "famous" recordings, I finally had to admit that overall, I enjoy listening to this one the most. And isn't that what listening to music is about: enjoyment? I think classical music lovers (including myself) often fall into the trap of buying or listening to something just because the "experts" recommend it. While there's nothing wrong with consulting informed opinions on the many choices of classical recordings, in the end they are only opinions. Try to hear samples or borrow recordings to find the version that is best for you before buying, or own multiple versions if you can afford it. There are many reasons I like this Tristan best. You may or may not agree, but try to hear it for yourself before making up your mind, instead of trusting negative reviews. In my opinion: Kleiber's conducting is adventurous and refreshing; just be aware that it's very flexible in tempo, as can be heard in the climax of the Prelude. Price's Isolde is simply gorgeous, so who cares if she never sang the role on stage?! Kollo is a decent Tristan, better than you might have been led to believe, though Vickers is my favorite. And during the love duet, Price and Kollo sound more beautiful together than any other pair I've heard. Their voices actually harmonize instead of clashing because of wide vibrato (a common problem in this scene). This is very important to me, and one of the main reasons I like this set so much. The rest of the cast is fine. Who can complain about Moll's rich bass or Fassbaender's attractive mezzo? And I've never understood those who criticize Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Wagnerian roles; I always enjoy his singing. And of course, the sound quality of this reissue is excellent, very warm and lush, whereas the original issue was fine but a bit steely. So for sheer enjoyment, I recommend this set above all others I've heard, though you should hear the classics if you can."Report Abuse