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After more than forty years this remains the best recording of "Tannhäuser" for a number of reasons. Good recordings have never been thick on the ground and while this one is by no means perfect, it pretty much kicks everything else into touch by virtue of the extraordinary vibrancy and erotic ambiance of Solti's direction - I believe this to be his finest achievement in terms of pure conducting. I have listened to countless versions of the Overture and Bacchanale, for example, and none begins to rival his for febrile energy and propulsive drive; he is able to insinuate a kind of erotic frenzy and compulsive desperation in his sonic depiction of the orgies taking place in Venusberg. The VPO is peerless, its rich, burnished glow ideal for conveying the sound-world of this opera.

The engineering effects, such as the gradual approach and retreat from left to right of the pilgrims' chorus, are very effective and the sound remains exemplary. The cast is as good as could be assembled in 1970, from Hans Sotin's noble Landgrave, to Victor Braun's affecting Wolfram, Helga Dernesch's sensitive, womanly Elisabeth, to Christa Ludwig's powerful, sensuously sung Venus. René Kollo's rather guttural, ungainly tenor has always been open to criticism and constitutes the main weakness here, especially when he aspirates, growls throatily to emphasise passion, and fails to produce a decent legato but the voice is strong and steady, amply conveying the kind of manic, bi-polar obsessiveness which afflicts Tannhäuser when he is attempting to resist (or not) the lures of the flesh - and Wagner knew all about that....

The use of the boy sopranos of the Viennese Boys' Choir for the shepherd boy and young pilgrims was an inspired choice and the adult singers from the Vienna State Opera Chorus are also ideal.

This is a recording unlikely now ever to be surpassed.
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on 16 December 2007
Kollo, as usual, makes up for his thinner tone with dramatic conviction. He sings with great security and power. Dernesch, Ludwig and Kollo are all superb. Solti conducts with both vigour and sensitivity, with the rich orchestral resources of the VPO. A first class opera set.
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on 17 April 2011
I was very wary buying an operatic CD of Wagner, but was tempted after listening to the 'Best Of Wagner' which contained instrumental music only.

From the first note to the last this is magic. Tannhauser is very handy for newcomers to Wagner in the fact that there are only 3 CDs so it isn't too difficult to get to know the music and begin to feel comfortable with it, with the added bonus that the 3rd CD has music which will make the hair stand on your head!

There should be a warning on his CDs. Once you start listening to them and get to know the music those wonderful melodies will get inside your head - and never leave! I thoroughly recommended this as a great introduction to Wagner.
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on 28 October 2016
This recording aspires to meet the demands of the modern listener for multi-miked volume equalising enhancement. In essence I found the sound seriously off putting with the monumental climaxes either orchestral or choral frankly lost in a 3 hour wall of sound. Decca recording engineers only add to a conductor's well known frenetic drive with special effects and an artificial bloom to - I was going to say "sound stage", but this has been entirely done away with - an overblown audio workout.

Kollo is no Windgassen; despite a more youthful voice this is a seriously bland interpretation. Windgassen's singing of the role for Gerdes was thankfully captured before it was too late because it is a towering achievement. Solti's Wolfram has an annoying vibrato that places him way behind either the rich velvety smooth baritones of Fischer Dieskau or Waechter, not to mention Thomas Stewart who can just about steer his large voice round it. I imagine Mathias Goerne, not the most subtle of today's singers, who has sung it on stage, could do far better than Solti's Wolfram, personable though he is.

Dernesch is good as Elisabeth, but not great (for her greats go to Karajan/Fidelio and Karajan/Siegfried etc) which more or less debars this set from the running. Elisabeth Grummer from the 1950s or Silja from the 60s offer finer singing and characterisation. While Grace Bumbry as a sultry Venus, in a racially pioneering role as the first black singer at a Bayreuth (where Winnie, Richard's granddaughter was still comparing racehorse breeds with human reproduction) to my ears is still the Goddess in charge of all that semi-naked cavorting and romping on stage. Indeed that production got perilously close to the off Broadway hit, "Hair" - but that's different, of course, because it's opera...

Even the quartet of male supporting roles in the Wartburg are painfully out of sync with the music and the ensembles, which are one of the chief joys of this early opera, flow like semi dried concrete under Solti. The pivotal Act 2 role of the Landgrave is rather better here for Solti. But Gerde's Theo Adam to my ears owns this role with his flexible rich fruity bass baritone ...and sans "wobble". The chorales at the end of Act 2 are dississipated; the final climax of the opera underwhelming due to the strange sound mixing for the Solti. But the Deutsche Oper Chor for Gerdes are overpowering precisely because this is a measured recording with a clear overall structure.

If you want the real deal, superbly recorded according to old school values of palpable space and fine natural warmth. Music with a sense of scale. Tremendous and unequalled soloists and choral singing. Then listen to samples from the Gerdes/DG/Deutsche Oper set. Unfortunately you will have to settle now for the 3 disc bargain Trio Edition from DG without libretto. A rare ED1 CD release (Hybrid SACD Japan) I have only seen it once was advertised at over a £180!

You can buy a single ticket to the Venusberg for that price and get the real thing! Don't make Tannhauser's mistake and come back, especially to a post Brexit Britain!

The Swedish ice maiden and renowned Wagnerian soprano, Birgit Nilsson, took over both roles of female temptress and angelic Elisabeth, courtesy of the recording studio, and is superior in both roles to Solti's cast. Probably just this USP makes the Gerdes set irresistable.

The live performances from Philips/Bayreuth/Sawallisch and the 1950s EMI from Konwitschny are interesting historic documents only.

Is it just me? I find Solti's Wagner recorded after his mighty Ring Cycle past his best?
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on 2 March 2007
Is Tannhauser really as problematical as the great Jon Vickers maintained? Of course not. The "hero" of this piece is torn between love (which may possibly lead to sex) and sex (and never mind if love has nothing to do with it). A lot of folk have been here before - long before the Minnesingers and long after Wagner himself - and realised that a little life experience allows you to work out the difference between love and lust. In this imperfect Decca account, Rene Kollo has a gutsy stab at the title role, and both he and conductor Georg Solti cope admirably with Wagner's emotional shifts immediately before and during the Rome Narration. Victor Braun's Wolfram is beautifully sung but a touch too precious for my taste, and while Helga Dernesch sounds gorgeous she is a little too formal as Elisabeth. Solti-Vienna Philharmonic-Wagner ought to be recommendation enough, but the bonus is Christa Ludwig's majestic Venus. It ain't perfect, but it's as good as you're likely to get.
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on 5 June 2012
Many moons ago, when I was but a callow youth, I purchased the LP set, which I played until the records became paper thin. Then, alas, I lost the set, never to find it again.

Consequently, it is a real treat to be able to purchase the CD version of this true classic. All the artists are at their peak and Hans Sotins voice reduces me to tears every time (for all the right reasons, I may add) All in all, a great performance with the V/Phil and Sir George in top form.

A true classic and one which, I feel, is a yardstick to measure all other versions by.
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on 9 September 2015
Excellent quality and fast delivery
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on 27 January 2016
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on 27 December 2012
This is the full Opera with singing. I had only heard the orchestral version before. I love Wagner and I was not dissappointed by this version which gave much more atmosphere to the music. 3CDs
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