Birgit Nilsson: The Great Live Recordings

Release Date: 9/7/2018
Label: Sony
Catalog Number: 88985392322
Number of Discs: 31

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$129.99
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 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.

-----

REVIEW:

All 17 performances (12 of them complete) collected here have appeared before in some form, or condition, as ‘private’ or ‘pirate’ issue recordings. The sonic improvements now made by Sony to these original releases are often considerable and their selection is both logical and satisfying.

– Gramophone
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
2. Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Performer: Hermann Uhde (Baritone), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Theo Adam (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor)
Conductor: Eugen Jochum
Period: Romantic
Written: 1846-1847 ; Germany
3. Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer: Hans Hotter (Baritone), Egmont Koch (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Hermann Winkler (Tenor), Walter Geisler (Tenor), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor), Arnold van Mill (Voice), Grace Hoffmann (Voice)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1857-1859 ; Germany
4. Die Walküre: Act 1: Schläfst du, Gast? by Richard Wagner
Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Ramon Vinay (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1854-1856 ; Germany
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
6. Turandot by Giacomo Puccini
Performer: Frank Guarrera (Baritone), Calvin Marsh (Baritone), Bonaldo Giaiotti (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Alessio de Paolis (Tenor), Franco Corelli (Tenor), Robert Nágy (Tenor), Charles Anthony (Tenor)
Conductor: Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic
Written: 1926 ; Italy
7. Salome, Op. 54 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Walter Cassel (Baritone), Marcia Baldwin (Mezzo Soprano), Irene Dalis (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Karl Liebl (Tenor), George Shirley (Tenor)
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Period: Romantic
Written: 1903-1905 ; Germany
8. Elektra, Op. 58 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Regina Resnik (Mezzo Soprano), Danica Mastilovic (Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Gerd Nienstedt (Voice)
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; Germany
9. Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer: Reid Bunger (Baritone), Martti Talvela (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Jess Thomas (Tenor), Peter Klein (Tenor), Anton Dermota (Tenor), Ruth Hesse (Voice), Harald Pröglhöf (Voice)
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Period: Romantic
Written: 1857-1859 ; Germany
10. Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer: Theo Adam (Bass), Martti Talvela (Bass), Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Régine Crespin (Soprano), Jon Vickers (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1856 ; Germany
11. Fidelio, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Theo Adam (Bass), Siegfried Vogel (Bass), Franz Crass (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Helen Donath (Soprano), Ludovic Speiss (Tenor), Gerhard Unger (Voice)
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Rome RAI Orchestra, RAI Chorus
Period: Classical
Written: 1804/1814 ; Vienna, Austria
12. Elektra, Op. 58 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Thomas Stewart (Baritone), Jean Madeira (Mezzo Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Carlotta Ordassy (Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Robert Nágy (Tenor)
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; Germany
13. Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer: Bengt Rundgren (Bass), Walter Berry (Bass Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Jon Vickers (Tenor), Horst Laubenthal (Voice), Harald Pröglhöf (Voice), Ruth Hesse (Voice)
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Period: Romantic
Written: 1857-1859 ; Germany
14. Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Karl Helm (Bass), Hermann Sapell (Bass), Karl Christian Kohn (Bass), Gudrun Wewezow (Mezzo Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Ingrid Bjoner (Soprano), Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Antonia Fahberg (Soprano), Norbert Orth (Tenor), James King (Tenor), Lorenz Fehenberger (Tenor)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1914-1918 ; Germany
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
16. Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort by Richard Wagner
Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1869-1874 ; Germany
17. Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90: Mild und leise wie er lächelt (Liebestod) by Richard Wagner
Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1857-1859 ; Germany
Customer Reviews
Average Review:
5.0 1
Great but….
By: ArkivMusic Customer on August 04, 2021
Format: CD
Great box of Nilsson’s live recordings. Noticeably missing is the fabulous DG live recording from Wiener Staatsoper of Die Frau ohne  Schatten with Karl Bohm from 1977. That one recording is worth it for the applause at the end (which is well deserved for the amazing performance)! Vienna Philharmonic in the pit!