|Tristan und Isolde|
Studio recording in mono
July 10-21 & 23, 1952
|Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler|
|Isolde|| ||Kirsten Flagstad|
|Kurwenal|| ||Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau|
|Marke|| ||Josef Greindl|
|Ein Hirt|| |
|Ein Seemann|| |
|Ein Steuermann|| |
Chorus of the Royal Operahouse, Covent Garden
|EMI, CMS 5 67621 2
Review by Charles E. Muntz|
Wilhelm Furtwängler was considered by many to be one of the greatest
Wagner conductors of all time. His readings were famous for their dark,
brooding nature, emphasizing the spiritual qualities of the works. And
while I feel that the Ring is a dramatic work and should be played as
such, his approach seems tailor-made for Tristan. This is one of the
most moving and powerful recordings ever made. Every phrase has a
sensuous quality to it. The whole works seems completely unified and,
despite its length, too short. The Philharmonia responds beautifully
to Furtwängler, although he had a better orchestra in the Vienna
Philharmonic for Die Walküre two years later.
For his Isolde Furtwängler had the greatest Wagner soprano of this
century, Kirsten Flagstad. Even though she was 57 at the time, her
golden voice is still in remarkable shape. Every phrase, every
utterance has deep power and feeling to it. One of recording historyís
most enduring oddities is that Flagstad refused to sing the two high C's
in Act 2 because she felt she was vocally no longer capable of them.
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sang them.
Furtwängler is less fortunate in his Tristan. Ludwig Suthaus has the
heroic ring to his voice that Wolfgang Windgassen lacks and he brings
plenty of drama to his reading. But Windgassen has more poetry,
lyricism, and feeling and I think is ultimately a substantially more
Of the minor roles the best is Fischer-Dieskauís beautifully sung
Kurwenal. Josef Greindl makes a fine Marke but is not as moving as
Talvela is for Böhm. Blanche Thebom does little with Brangäne.
The mono recording is good, but Flagstad seems to fade away much too
frequently, especially during Act 1. Another annoyance is that the
remastered edition has the wrong tracks listed in the booklet. The
opera comes on four discs at full price and I think the three disc,
mid-price stereo Bohm is a better first choice for this opera. But
if this music means something to you, go out and buy it.
This review is from the now closed Wagner on the Web and it is published
without the author's consent. I haven't been able to get in touch with him.
If the author reads this, please contact me as soon as possible. If you
don't want it here, I'll take it of the site immediately.