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Subject: Re: "Tristan" Recordings
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 4 Jan 2018 16:54:19 -0800
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Actually, David’s right (about the rehearsal, not about Tom Krause). I have a copy of the original LP edition (in the oversized box with the big block letters on the side and with the tulips on the LP labels). Side 10 is a “Probe mit Karl Böhm, Wolfgang Windgassen, Eberhard Wächter und Erwin Wohlfart: III Akt, 1. Aufzug”. To be honest with you, I never listened to it.

In every production he conducted, Karl Böhm was notorious for singling out someone to pick on and make miserable. More than once, it happened to be a good looking young baritone. For many years, this blocked release of the new Met first broadcast of “Frau ohne Schatten.” William Dooley (the Geisterbote) bore such a grudge about how he felt Böhm had mistreated him that he wouldn’t give his permission.

I went to a “Frau” dress rehearsal in San Francisco in 1976 and he rode Ruth Hesse something fierce. He also screamed at Ursula Schröder-Feinen and a cellist. When Böhm first came in, he got to the podium and, without looking, handed his jacket behind to what he assumed would be someone standing there waiting to take it. There was nobody there and the jacket fell on the floor.

I wasn’t impressed by his Wagner, but I really did admire his Strauss and Mozart. In that San Francisco “Frau,” I was impressed with the storms of sound he elicited from the orchestra with an exceptionally compact (barely visible) beat.

Veering off topic from a moment, but speaking of Böhm and Mozart, I think one of the clearest demonstrations of the role of the conductor in shaping the overall sound of a performance is wonderfully demonstrated in the series of Mozart opera recordings Decca made in June of 1955, using their new stereo equipment in the Redoutensaal in Vienna (the Sofiensaal didn’t get used until December of that year and the Musikvereinsaal turned out to be too reverberant for stereo recording with their “tree” mic configuration). The Kleiber “Nozze di Figaro,” Krips “Don Giovanni” and Böhm “Cost fan Tutte” and Zauberflöte” were all made with the same orchestra, same hall, same producer and engineering team and with many of the same singers across casts. Yet the actual sound (orchestral sound as well as the overall sound “picture” of the operas) and style seem very different between these three conductors.

Max Paley

> On Jan 4, 2018, at 1:18 PM, Kenneth Bleeth <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> If you're referring to the DG Bayreuth Tristan, there's no rehearsal
> sequence, and, in any case, the Kurwenal is Waechter, not Krause. (Krause
> is the Kurwenal in the Solti Tristan.)
> 
> On Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 4:02 PM, David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> If I remember correctly, the last side of the Böhm-Nilsson 'Tristan'
>> recording is the conductor rehearsing with Tom Krause the last act.  It is
>> excruciating -- if Böhm rehearsed all his singers like this how could they
>> stand it?
>> 
>> David Kubiak
>> 
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