Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 6 August 2013
I am an avid collector of historic recordings, both from studio and live performances. Having bought the Bayreuth Vision collection and purchased the Met collection looking forward to an equally exciting set of performances. The casts are wonderful with great names like Flagstad and Melchior singing together, especially in "Tristan und Isolde" - a partnership for all time. However, my reservations lie not with the singers but with the recording quality and the conducting of Bodanzky. There is a world of difference in the sound quality between the Bayreuth on-stage recordings and those from the Met. The Met sound, despite being cleaned up by up to date technology, is thin and sounds its age. I know most of the recordings are pre-WW II and therefore older than most of the Bayreuth performances, but it still remains a disappointment. I have a couple of Bodanzky live recordings in my collection and have always disliked his excessively fast tempi, but in the performance of "Tristan" in this set it is ridiculous. It seems at times as if the singers, great though they are, struggle to keep up and get ther words out. As for the orchestra in this opera, the playing is scrappy - how else could the strings play at such fast tempi.
Other performances are fine and can be enjoyed, as long as listeners are prepared for a less than perfect sound quality. For devotees of historic Wagner performances I would recommend the Bayreuth Vision set with classic casts and exceptional conductors.