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Subject: Re: Best Tristan recording
From: william kasimer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:william kasimer <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Oct 2011 10:16:31 -0400
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On Tue, 25 Oct 2011 10:25:19 -0400, James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>What do members of the list consider to be the best Tristan und Isolde
>recording?

If forced to pick a single recordings, it would probably be Karajan's live
1952 Bayreuth performance - one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts
performances.  None of the singers are favorites of mine (except for Hotter,
who is somewhat miscast as Kurwenal), but the whole recording has a
white-hot intensity.  Be sure to spend the extra $$$ and obtain the Orfeo
release, which sounds vastly superior to all others I've heard.

>What is the best one in reasonably modern (stereo at least) sound? 

They're all flawed in some way, but I'd probably suggest Boehm.  The tempi
are often a little faster than I'd like, but it benefits the singers, and
also provides the advantage of fitting each act onto a single disc.  I like
much of the Kleiber recording (particularly Price's contribution), but
there's a cold sterility to the proceedings that makes it a hard recording
for me to enjoy.  Conversely, I love Bernstein's recording for his
contribution, but the casting is marginal at best, which may be why he seems
to be trying as hard as he can to drown them out.  The Pappano is what it
looks like - a reasonably well sung recording, patched together, that makes
a good "reference" version, but isn't very inspiring.  I don't remember much
about the Barenboim, but it didn't survive my last Tristan cull.  I listened
to the Thielemann recording once and hated everything about it, as I recall.

The Furtwangler EMI is a fine performance, but if you really want to hear
his way with the score, seek out the abridged broadcast (as I recall, it's
part of Act 2, and virtually all of Act 3) from a few years earlier (Berlin,
1947).  It's unfortunate that the Isolde was Erna Schluter, but Suthaus was
in much, much better voice on that occasion, and the youngish Frick is a
superb King Mark.

Speaking of Suthaus and Frick, both are also in terrific voice for
Konwitschny's recording (available on Preiser, I believe);they are, alas,
the only reasons to hear that set.

One of the mid-30's Met or Covent Garden recordings is essential, for
obvious reasons.  If it's still available, the 1943 Met broadcast with
Traubel and Melchior is also worth investigating.

Bill

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