Richard [Classical] Wagner (Composer),
Carlos Kleiber (Conductor),
Dresden Staatskapelle (Orchestra),
Anton Dermota (Performer),
Brigitte Fassbaender (Performer),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Performer),
Kurt Moll (Performer),
Margaret Price (Performer),
René Kollo (Performer),
Werner Gotz (Performer),
Wolfgang Hellmich (Performer)
This is a definitive example of the sum being much greater than its parts. I bought this on a whim because I’ve always loved Kleiber’s conducting, and Tristan und Isolde is my favorite opera.
Still, I didn’t expect that much, mainly because a) when people talk about the ultimate Tristan recording, they NEVER mention this one. We always hear about Furtwangler and Bohm, with Karajan mentioned some, while Solti’s attempt has been almost universally panned (not by me, by the way) b) Rene Kollo is an excellent heldentenor, but I was lead to believe (mistakenly) that Tristan was out of his league, and c) who is Margaret Price?
Kleiber’s Tristan doesn’t have the vocal fireworks of Furtwangler, nor the steamy passion of Bohm, but it does possess a cohesiveness that both conductors lack. The Dresden orchestra has a massive sound, but unlike the Bohm version, we never lose any orchestral details.
There is a certain menace to this Tristan that is wholly lacking from the others that I’ve heard. The monumental love duet in Act II has a frightening beauty, and the orgasmic conclusion to that same duet is most intense that I’ve heard. The beginning of Act III is painfully desolate, and Isolde’s Leibestod the most transcendental.
Kollo and Price are a woefully underrated Tristan and Isolde. Kollo sounds heroic, yet doomed and resigned (which is what Wagner had in mind all along), while Price is the most feminine Isolde on disc. Although I love the Nilson and Flagstad performances, it’s nice to hear Isolde as an Irish princess, instead of a Nordic valkyrie, for a change.
This set comes with full libretto, and each act is sensibly placed on a single disc. Although some wouldn’t agree, this Tristan is essential.
Ina nahrávka s Karlom Bohm live 66 from Beareuth