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Parsifal Box set, Hybrid SACD, SACD

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

Price: £42.82 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: Marek Janowski
  • Composer: Wagner
  • Audio CD (17 Mar. 2012)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set, Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: PentaTone
  • ASIN: B005OZDYAO
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,469 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Disc 4
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2
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8
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Product Description

Product Description

Janowski,M./Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Review

The third issue in PentaTone's ambitious project to record ten mature Wagner operas by the time of the composer's bicentenary in 2013 proves to be the finest so far released. The live recording was made on April 8, 2011 in the Philharmonie, Berlin, with an exceptional international cast of soloists under the direction of Marek Janowski and the superb contribution of the Rundfunkchor, Berlin, a vital component in the success of this undertaking... From the opening bars of the Prelude one is struck by the luminous and pellucid sonic quality that the engineers have achieved. The ethereal string playing benefits from the unexpectedly spacious acoustic, and when the brass enter they are rich and weighty in tone. Janowski imparts a wonderful sense of purpose to the music and the clarity of execution that he achieves from his orchestra is remarkable. Gergiev's equally valid reverential approach to this prelude unfortunately is marred by his audible mutterings that, on repeated listening, become more irritating. Janowski's cast has been chosen with great care and is uniformly impressive with no weak links even in the smallest roles. The Titurel of the Russian bass Dimitry Ivashchenko deserves special mention for his well-projected sepulchral tones, and the Blumenmädchen are as bright and sexy a bunch as one could wish for... Finally, the lynch-pins in this recording are the Rundfunkchor, Berlin, whose singing displays such power and grandeur in the choruses of Acts 1 & 3, and the Berlin Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester whose marvellously responsive playing illuminates every aspect of the score. The PentaTone recording is superb in capturing an appropriate sense of space and depth. The perspectives of the off-stage voices and brass benefit from the added realism of the surround sound, while the transparent reproduction of the warm orchestral timbres are complemented by Janowski's vital conducting. Presentation of the 4-disc set is excellent and includes the full libretto in German and English, a thought-provoking essay on the work by Steffen Georgi and biographies of the artists. Access to the discs has been improved by a small change to the packaging. This dramatic and involving 'Parsifal' raises Marek Janowski's epic Wagnerian journey to a new level of excellence that one hopes will be maintained in the performances and recordings yet to come - an exciting prospect for all Wagnerites! Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net --Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net --2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net

This is a deliberately paced but never draggy reading with a different cast of Wagnerian specialists than in Meistersinger or Der Fliegende Holländer, but once again a very aptly chosen roster with real understanding of Wagner's music and generally fine vocal sound. Wagner's final opera remains one of his most controversial, with arguments about whether the libretto is or is not traditionally Christian, does or does not contain considerable anti-Semitism, and is or is not sunk by its own internal contradictions (how did Titurel end up with a son, Amfortas, in a world where sexual contact with women is de facto evidence of unholiness?). What is inarguable, though, is the sublimity of the music and the extraordinarily tight-knit nature of the score the interrelationship of the leitmotifs here is beyond anything else in Wagner, and so are the moves beyond tonality into evanescence (starting with a Prelude that, if it not supposed to put the audience to sleep, is surely intended to lull listeners into a sense of otherworldliness).Janowski's attentiveness to instrumental effects and the frequent chamber-music-like elements of Parsifal is remarkable, and most of the singers do a fine job of trying to breathe some life into their unidimensional characters. Kundry, the only one in the opera who seems fully alive, is well sung by Michelle DeYoung, although listeners familiar with earlier recordings featuring Waltraud Meier's deeply felt and beautifully projected handling of the role may find DeYoung somewhat pale. Eike Wilm Schulte makes a fine Klingsor, perhaps not filled with menace but certainly monomaniacal in his determination to take the Grail for his own. The good guys are somewhat more colorless. Gurnemanz (Franz-Josef Selig) has the most lines, and knits the first and third acts together; and there is certainly passion in Selig's singing, although at times his voice wavers a little. Dimitry Ivashchenko, who handles the small part of Titurel with world-weary intensity, might have been a better choice as Gurnemanz a role he has sung elsewhere with considerable success. Christian Elsner is fine as Parsifal, a part as thankless as it is central: its primary characteristics are bewilderment and tentativeness, which Elsner projects effectively. In the equally important, equally thankless role of the ever-complaining Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin sings with such vocal strength that he comes across as somewhat too intense for a character supposed to be agonized both physically and spiritually.The Flower Maidens scene said to have been Wagner's favorite in the opera is especially well handled here, through the contrast of Elsner's naïveté with the surface sweetness and underlying danger of the magical women.The overall performance is actually more consistent than that of Meistersinger: it is strong from start to finish. Still to come in this exemplary series are Lohengrin, Tristan, Tannhäuser and the four Ring operas. Even without Rienzi, which cries out for a top-notch new recording, PentaTone s releases are shaping up as a major highlight of the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth. --http://infodad.com --infodad.com

...Christian Elsner is a wonderfully sensitive and expressive Parsifal... The recorded sound is sensational...If Janowski s planned cycle, of which this is the third instalment, continues like this, it will unquestionably be the finest modern traversal on disc of Wagner's achievement. BBC Music Magazine, June 2012 Recording of the Month - ***** Performance & Recording --BBC Music Magazine, June 2012

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinarily fine recording/interpretation. This is an opera that can withstand very different policies on tempo and apparently Wagner himself encouraged Hermann Levi in the initial run at Bayreuth to hurry up because the audience would be bored. This performance is about 8 minutes slower at 3.46.20 than Boulez which is also rather good, and I think preferable to Goodall sagging over more than 5 hours. And in fact I don't hear anything rushed - I think that would only happen if you had another performance too firmly fixed in your mind. In principle three and three quarter hours is still a long time but it just sweeps past - I have occasionally experienced this sense of time suspended in Wagner in the theatre seldom on disc.

But there is more - the perfection of execution is remarkable both from singers and orchestra bearing in mind that it was taken from a single live concert performance and without patching. The force and precision of Elsner and DeYoung as Parsifal and Kundry in Act II has to be heard to be believed - but it is a really strong all round cast, which is perhaps not the case across all of Janowski's Wagner cycle. Also the bells a very fine - too often they just sound like someone pounding out chords on a piano, but these are just perfect.

And finally there is the incredibly luminous sound. The audience is invisible - I think I once was aware of a distant cough.
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Format: Audio CD
I fully support the remarks of D S Crowe!
The conducting robs the great opera of all atmosphere and majesty.
The pace is insane - and the projection heartless.
D S Crowe's criticisms concentrate on the First Act.
Mine would focus on the Third Act and the opera's conclusion.
This glorious music is devoid of any sense of mystery or wonder in this performance.
I had been swayed to purchase this set by the praise this recording had had from other [professional] reviews.
I should have known better!

In complete contrast to this woeful aberration, Goodall's conception does full justice to the wonder of this great opera.
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Format: Audio CD
It took me a while to get the courage to continue to listen to this Janowski Wagner cycle considering a disappointing set of "Meistersinger" and the rather appalling review I read on this site.

Well my patience was rewarded in that this is one of the most original and courageous "Parsifal" I had the opportunity of listening to. If, like me, you like your Parsifal like a celebration suspended in time - the way Knappertsbusch and Levine do it- then you will be gobsmacked by the (fast) pace at which Janowski conducts the piece. There is no celebration, no mass here, just an amazing epic that moves forward with beautiful dynamics and tremendous intensity. It starts with the overture and the Act I, where we are flooded by incredible orchestral colours - contrary to what one might think, the accelerated pace enables us to reveal the details and the complexity of the orchestration in ways that no-one of our legendary slow movers could achieve. Act II is in the same vein, very dramatic, very intense, and Janowski effectively tells us a tale of impossible love. Think about it: Amfortas and Kundry die of having loved too much; Parsifal suffers because he wasn't loved enough; and Klingsor turns to the dark side because his love was excessive. By focusing on the drama and on the characters, Janowski gives an entirely new reading, more lyrical and less analytical than Boulez's, but much more dynamic and personal than many others. In Act II, our conductor whips his magnificent orchestra (the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin) like there is no tomorrow, and I have been impressed by the solo violin of concertmaster Rainer Wolters.
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