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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest of all Tristans
A wonderful set - and an outstanding bargain. Top contenders in this opera would be the versions of Furtwängler and Böhm. The recorded sound of this issue alone - it is beautifully spacious with perfect balance between singers and orchestra - puts it way ahead of the old Furtwängler, which in any case has in Flagstad an Isolde who sounds far too matronly...
Published on 19 Dec 2010 by Numero Uno

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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A typical DGG recording which soloists struggle to save
This is a typical DGG set where the engineers have taken over from the performance and fiddled around with the sound so much that it virtually destroys the opera. Half the time (when the music is quiet) the singers are in your front room and the orchestra is in the next street but when the music gets loud the poor soloists have problems being heard. This is an ideal...
Published 21 months ago by Robber


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest of all Tristans, 19 Dec 2010
A wonderful set - and an outstanding bargain. Top contenders in this opera would be the versions of Furtwängler and Böhm. The recorded sound of this issue alone - it is beautifully spacious with perfect balance between singers and orchestra - puts it way ahead of the old Furtwängler, which in any case has in Flagstad an Isolde who sounds far too matronly. One gets more orchestral detail than in the Böhm version for Kleiber is a master at bringing out tiny details of woodwind colouring, as is immediately apparent in the Prelude. Margaret Price and René Kollo both sound convincingly young. Price is the loveliest-sounding Isolde I have ever heard, also the most ecstatic: no-one would know she hadn't sung the role onstage. Kurt Moll gives full attention to every word and is a rare example of a King Marke who isn't a bore. In fact, there isn't a single passage throughout the opera which drags, thanks to Kleiber's inspired direction. The opera can also be bought as part of a 12-CD set, an absolute bargain but the remastering may not equal the sound on this version.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Isolde to die for !, 12 Feb 2011
By 
A. Pristavec "tony P" (london) - See all my reviews
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Having listened to the whole of this recording in a state of almost hypnosis, it is easy to see why Tristan was ready to depart this life. Margaret Price is to die for. Her lightness and flexibilty combined with exceptional musicality and emotive power makes this one of the finest available recordings of the role of Isolde. Price, though, has ample vocal power when needed. Combine this with Carlos Kleiber's visionary conducting and the ravishing string sound of the Dresden Staatskapelle and you have special ingredients indeed. The liebestod is a sublime culmination where Price achieves something extraordinary and will leave you in awe of this great singer. Even Rene Kollo as Tristan sound more youthful and lighter than in other recordings. If you buy only one recording of this work, it has to be this one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there any word other than sublime?, 3 Aug 2011
By 
Chris Todhunter (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
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I was brought up on the Furtwangler/Flagstad version. Then I discovered Karajan/Dernesch 35 years ago. Agreed a little idiosyncratic, but that version bowled me over, and Dernesch's voice very much appealed to me. I have been faithful ever since.

Until now. Fickle creature that I am, I am now in love with the Kleiber/Price blend of magic. Yes, Isolde is perhaps a little lighter than the more usual Wagnerians but possibly this is what makes it so outstanding. Just think of Gundula Janowitz as Gutrune in Karajan's Ring, and you've got the same sort of magic.

I expect I shall go to my grave faithful to Kleiber/Price and this stunning version.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful performance by Isolde with rich orchestral detail, 21 Aug 2007
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Price as Isolde is in fine form. Her Isolde is lighter than some divas in this role but nevertheless up to the challenge. Kollo as Tristan is pretty run of the mill and much could be said of Fischer-Dieskau (who understandably no where meets his magnificence, as a young man, as heard in the 1952 Furtwangler set). However, the whole performance is never less than appealing. The beauty of the orchestral sound is considerable. This performance is easier on the ear than some other more histrionic sets (Eg: Karajans set with a shrill Isolde played by Dernesh and a 'hysterical' orchestral interpretation).

This is a performance that delivers beauty and subtlty. Whilst my first choice will always be Furtwanglers 1952 set this comes in as a refreshing alternative rendering, with Bohm's and solti's).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Predominately lyrical but still highly dramatic and moving, 16 Oct 2013
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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I think that in order to avoid getting bogged down in debate over whether singers such as Margaret Price have any business singing a role which they would not - and indeed, in her case never did - attempt on stage, this recording is best viewed as a product of the recording studio rather than an attempt to replicate a live performance, and devised in order to enshrine the conception of a great conductor making the best of the resources available to him. Undoubtedly the DG engineers' adjustments are enabling lighter voiced artists to be heard but the same could be said of the covered pit at Bayreuth and to this day true Wagner singers who may be properly heard over the orchestra are as rare as hen's teeth.

This is undoubtedly beautifully played and directed; Kleiber's sensitivity and lyricism infuse every bar but he also packs a punch at the climactic conclusions of Acts 1 and 2. Being a devotee of the live 1966 recording at Bayreuth conducted by Böhm, I miss a certain propulsion in passages such as the "O sink hernieder" duet and too often his singers are almost crooning not just because they lack vocal heft but because a Lieder-like restraint and delicacy are clearly what the conductor has demanded of them. That can pay dividends: this is clearly the most minutely prepared of recordings with every textual and musical nuance thought through for maximum impact; nothing is skimped or blandly performed.

Fischer-Dieskau croons and fakes notes because by this stage of his career - the set was recorded between August 1980 and April 1982 - the juice has gone out of his voice and he no longer has the resources but he creates a bluff, credible Kurwenal. Kollo's voice is always an odd assemblage of incongruities: he has little legato and can quickly lose tonal lustre, either yelling or almost marking, but he rarely defaults into the guttural emphasis or pronounced bleat which sometimes marred his singing and he sounds suitably youthful, delivering the words with exemplary expression. His ravings aren't painful in the way some Tristans can be. Varnay, Heppner, Treptow, Vickers or - least of all - Melchior he ain't - but he's nonetheless better than passable. Fassbaender keeps her wide vibrato under control and rises to the fierce, sustained tessitura of a role which often lies as high as Brangaene's mistress; she brings a master Lieder recitalist's acuity to her text. The smaller parts of the Young Sailor and Melot are taken by mediocre singers, the former glottal and the latter making little impact in his tiny but crucial interventions.

The glories of this set, however, apart from Kleiber's concept and the playing of the Dresdeners, are Kurt Moll's predictably moving and sonorous Marke and Margaret Price's shining Isolde. Her voice has qualities similar to those of Gundula Janowitz, whose predominately lyrical and fluting soprano had sufficient spinto power, stamina and legato to undertake "lighter" Wagnerian roles on stage. She may be artificially boosted but the result is thrilling; I haven't enjoyed a "recent" (comparatively, in terms of recorded history) Isolde as much since Linda Esther Gray's superlative recording for Goodall - and she could pull it off live on stage, too. Price's flawless German and thrilling top, honed in her celebrated Strauss roles, in combination with a serviceable lower register and a real actress's delivery combine to enable her to deliver the recorded performance of a lifetime, regardless of her practical limitations. There is nothing matronly (Flagstad?) or chromium-plated (Nilsson?) about her vulnerable, passionate, wild and almost girlish Isolde; she's terrific.

Its faults notwithstanding, being now available in superb sound at a bargain price on three discs with a full, trilingual libretto, this set should be in the collection of any devotee of this greatest of operas.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 **** -- a triumph for Kleiber, 1 April 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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The whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this recording of "Tristan und Isolde," and that that is the case is due mainly to the superb direction of Carlos Kleiber. In all three of these long acts, he finds a way to keep the pulse going and find a musical narrative that sustains and enriches the narrative that is being enacted and sung. The DGG sound is beautiful, and the Dresden orchestra plays magnificently throughout. The control of dynamics and phrasing always seems to be alive and expressive, so that even in the places where the voices are under stress, and at times overwhelmed, one never feels that the drama isn't moving forward. It's easy to forget, over the long spans of the piece, that each act has its distinctive sound-world, though if that were not the case, the ear would surely tire. That is never a problem here.

If one wants to isolate individual vocal performances from the overall musical progression, one can find things to criticize. The most obvious of these is Kollo's Tristan -- his is not a particularly beautiful sound here, in 1982. In the Karajan 1970 "Meistersinger" and when I heard him live in 1969 in "Das Lied von der Erde" in Edinburgh, there was more sweetness with the power -- though it was never heldentenor power. But he sings with great attention to the text, and the phrasing and dynamics receive their due too (his singing is not an undifferentiated bellow), even if the tone isn't always sweet and if the voice seems near its limit. He sings very expressively in Act 3. though he might be at his best in the confrontation with Marke late in Act 2, where his voice seems at its freshest. Fischer-Dieskau's voice shows some wear, but he's a perfectly effective Kurwenal, and Anton Dermota, at 72, sounds marvelously fresh and firm as the Herdsman. Kurt Moll (Marke) and Brigitte Fassbaender (Brangane) sing superbly throughout -- really distinguished performances, I think, and Margaret Price totally vindicates Kleiber's choice of her as Isolde. Whether or not she could have sung the role on stage seems beside the point -- she sings with lovely tone and great expression throughout -- always womanly, whether in anger or tenderness, and in the Liebestod and the duet of Act Two she is magnificent. But one comes back to Kleiber -- he supports these singers and never seems to be compromising the passion, beauty, and coherence of the music. And there are no problems -- as there were in his "Freischutz -- of his singers' voices being too closely miked. All is in great balance. Simply great stuff!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars why four CDs?, 7 Mar 2014
By 
Amazon Customer "hamble" (somewhere in west europe) - See all my reviews
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A truly great version of this most profound opera. Price is a fine Isolde and Kollo a heroic Tristan. But why is it split over tour discs? Act 1 is 77 minutes long, act 2 is not quite 80, and act 3 is 75 minutes. You can fit up to 80 minutes on a CD, but instead all three acts have annoying splits. Most people's preference would be to listen to a whole act in one go ... So a star off for this. Otherwise a lovely recording.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kleiber's Tristan und Isolde, 3 Dec 2013
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An astounding performance thanks to Maestro Kleiber and his unique talent.Maggie Price beautiful on disc.The other performers not in this league but who could be
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4.0 out of 5 stars I havn't heard the whole recording yet - but totally ..., 3 Sep 2014
I havn't heard the whole recording yet - but totally agree with the person who equated Price with Janowitz. I heard the Liebestod on Radio Three (Was it "Private Passions"?) and was bowled over by her glorious voice. Can't wait to get the set.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A typical DGG recording which soloists struggle to save, 27 Jan 2013
This is a typical DGG set where the engineers have taken over from the performance and fiddled around with the sound so much that it virtually destroys the opera. Half the time (when the music is quiet) the singers are in your front room and the orchestra is in the next street but when the music gets loud the poor soloists have problems being heard. This is an ideal 'Tristan' if you like your opera set in a giant barn as there is very little intimacy in the sound. The singers are superb and even if Dieskau barks a little, he is still effective. Price and Kollo are well matched and there is some stunning singing from both. Kurt Moll's Marke is utterly absorbing and never dull. I am not a Carlos Kleiber fan and, I am sorry to say, his conducting of this piece doesn't change my mind - even bearing in mind that the engineers have set out to sabotage the performance. This set is for fans of the soloists and the conductor - but the poor engineering stops it from being a great recording.
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