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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde [Import, Box set]

Richard Wagner , Horst Stein , Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus , Birgit Nilsson , Jon Vickers , et al. Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Performer: Birgit Nilsson, Jon Vickers, Ruth Hesse, Hans Sotin, Hans Gunter Nöcker
  • Orchestra: Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
  • Conductor: Horst Stein
  • Composer: Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (26 Feb 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Import, Box set
  • Label: Myto Records Italy
  • ASIN: B000060P90
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 944,877 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tristan und Isolde Vienna 1976 12 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase
When I got into opera several years ago, a book mentioned recordings of Tristan und Isolde with Birgit Nilsson (Bayreuth 1966) and Jon Vickers (Karajan) suggesting there ought to be a recording with both together, which would be amazing. This is the last of four live recordings with this ideal pairing in the title roles. Could this be the recording that writer sought?

There are at least 20 live recordings of Nilsson as Isolde (1957 - 1976) and one studio version (Solti, 1960) - there is little to differentiate these vocally, though her interpretation improved with experience. In general, Nilsson sings Isolde beautifully, with gleaming silvery focussed tone and an almost inhuman stamina and ease of voice production. For this review brief choice moments from the other three Nilsson / Vickers Tristans (1971, 1973 and 1974) were auditioned. In this (1976) performance, Nilsson is on blistering form in the Act One Narration and Curse, including an ear-splitting top B on Preis. As the performance progresses, there may be just a slight lack of the trademark ease. The evening ends with a fine Liebestod, the final Lust is floated, albeit not with absolute ease. Detractors are losing sight of the fact this is still a very good Isolde performance. Comparing with Nilsson's earlier Isoldes is like saying she ONLY got Olympic Silver after twenty or so Golds! Nilsson's 1976 Isolde is still way better than many others in the part before or since. Jon Vickers reins in his powerful but soft-grained voice, though has cutting power when needed, he can float his voice and soften its essentially coarse timbre, the overall effect is he sounds appropriately manly and tender. Their voices contrast yet really blend so well, great Act Two love duet. Ruth Hesse (Brangaene) is good but a bit hooty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The coughers compete with the veteran singers 20 Feb 2013
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Goodness knows what cold virus was haunting the cobbled back alleys of Vienna that December in 1976 - or was it just a collective case of mass pig ignorance? - but I have never heard such a gratuitously inattentive and inconsiderate audience hack its way through an entire performance almost without respite - it's absolutely maddening. I expect to be tolerant of some audience noise but this is ridiculous.

My disappointment is compounded by the fact that contrary to my hopes and expectations, Nilsson and Vickers do not here constitute the dream-team partnership we might have envisaged. Despite the amplitude of her voice and her continued ability to hit the top notes, Nilsson is clearly labouring as she lows and heaves her way unsteadily through the part, quite without the ease and gleam we hear in earlier recordings from the 60's and early 70's; at times it is almost painful. The Brangäne is harsh and wobbly and rather ordinary; the Kurwenal similarly competent but unmemorable. It is a surprise to hear the inimitable tones of veteran tenor Anton Dermota as the Sailor here at 66 years old and still singing well and the equally unmistakable tenor of Gerhard Stolze is a characterful asset as the Shepherd. The noble sonority of Hans Sotin's rich bass lends pathos, dignity and gravitas to King Mark's lament.

Vickers, too is below par; perhaps it is fair to say that both principal singers are here past their legendary best, although Vickers is here only 50 while Nilsson is already 58. His tone is often hoarse, grey and lacking centre; he frequently lapses into his besetting fault of crooning.
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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The coughers compete with the veteran singers 20 Feb 2013
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Goodness knows what cold virus was haunting the cobbled back alleys of Vienna that December in 1976 - or was it just a collective case of mass pig ignorance? - but I have never heard such a gratuitously inattentive and inconsiderate audience hack its way through an entire performance almost without respite - it's absolutely maddening. I expect to be tolerant of some audience noise but this is ridiculous.

My disappointment is compounded by the fact that contrary to my hopes and expectations, Nilsson and Vickers do not here constitute the dream-team partnership we might have envisaged. Despite the amplitude of her voice and her continued ability to hit the top notes, Nilsson is clearly labouring as she lows and heaves her way unsteadily through the part, quite without the ease and gleam we hear in earlier recordings from the 60's and early 70's; at times it is almost painful. The Brangäne is harsh and wobbly and rather ordinary; the Kurwenal similarly competent but unmemorable. It is a surprise to hear the inimitable tones of veteran tenor Anton Dermota as the Sailor here at 66 years old and still singing well and the equally unmistakable tenor of Gerhard Stolze is a characterful asset as the Shepherd. The noble sonority of Hans Sotin's rich bass lends pathos, dignity and gravitas to King Mark's lament.

Vickers, too is below par; perhaps it is fair to say that both principal singers are here past their legendary best, although Vickers is here only 50 while Nilsson is already 58. His tone is often hoarse, grey and lacking centre; he frequently lapses into his besetting fault of crooning.

Horst Stein was an excellent conductor and often paces matters aptly without generating much excitement; there is a certain slackness where we need more dramatic tension but the prelude is replete with yearning (insofar as you can ignore the relentless hacking) famous, the climax to Act 1 exciting, and the extended love duet in Act 2 goes well, with Vickers using a tender mezza voce.

The mono sound is quite distant; voices are often too recessed but not too damagingly so. It's perfectly acceptable for a live recording of that provenance but nothing special.

So unfortunately this is not the collector's item all "Tristan" obsessives will have been searching for.
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