Tristan und Isolde
Live recording in stereo from
Festspielhaus Bayreuth
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Tristan Wolfgang Windgassen
Isolde Birgit Nilsson
Brangäne Christa Ludwig
Kurwenal Eberhard Wächter
Marke Martti Talvela
Melot Claude Heater
Ein Hirt Erwin Wohlfahrt
Ein Seemann Peter Schreier
Ein Steuermann Gerd Nienstedt
Chor und Orchester der
Bayreuther Festspiele
Deutsche Grammophon, 419 889-2 3 CDs ADD
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Review by Rodney Hrvatin

Someone once told me that there is no such thing as a definitive recording of a Wagner opera. I think they were proved wrong with this recording. Recorded live over three nights (an act a night), this recording must rank alongside Solti's "Ring" as one of the greatest Wagner recordings.

Windgassen as Tristan is gut-wrenchingly emotional and his performance in Act Three is amongst some of the finest singing on record. Talvela as King Marke is resplendidly elegant as usual in his role. You almost feel sorry for him at the end of Act Two.

Christa Ludwig's Brangäne is also brilliant and plays a perfect foil to the star of this recording...

Brigit Nilsson must rank amongst the finest Wagnerian sopranos of her day. The first time I heard her Liebestod, I was crying--it was that good. It is made even more amazing by the fact that it is live--after a three hour sing, it sounds as effortless as if she hadn't sung all day.

Böhm's efforts on the podium are nothing short of brilliant. His aggressive attitude to the score at times brings a heightened sense of urgency to the whole thing, whereas other conductors tend to dwell on the music and draw it out.

As an aside, DG has recently released the recording on their "Originals" label. I have not had much of a listen to it, but it seems to me that there is perhaps a slightly more spacious sound than the original CD release, but don't quote on that. :-)