Top positive review
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Stunning bargain full of unexpected delights
on 26 November 2013
This is a truly worthy addition to the 200th birthday celebrations, excellently priced and full of superb performances. For me the(wholly unexpected) highlights were:
Rienzi (Rene Kollo, Hollreiser, et al). Like most music lovers I only knew the fantastic overture and was ready to be bored and disappointed by such early Wagner. In fact this is a terrific performance of an unjustly neglected grand opera - what a pity the great man did not write more in this mode. In this frenetic and committed performance (like hyper-inflated Verdi) the absurd plot flew by and I was drawn into the internecine strife of medieval Rome by the sheer brilliance and bravado of the performances - the Chorus were superb, the orchestra splendid, even the smallest role sung blazingly and the principals brilliant. I ended up moved by Rienzi's downfall and enthralled by the journey to it.
Flying Dutchman Klemperer and the BBC Chorus were unbelievably and unfailingly terrific in this highly charged and brilliantly sung performance. Klemperer (belying his reputation) rips through the story at breakneck speed and with searing intensity - totally thrilling. The best finale I have ever heard (and a terrific Steuermann as one of many incidentl delights)
Tannhauser - I have previously found this a rather tedious opera, but in the hands of Bernard Haitink and the superb line up this was truly moving, with all the characters vividly alive, and again a superb chorus (Wiener Staatsoper).
Lohengrin. Rudolf Kempe and Jess Thomas (both rather undervalued I think) make this an outstanding Lohengrin, with teriffic chorus work and superb sound.
Tristan and Isolde. I thought this was going to be the dud, with an aged Domingo. In fact he makes a really rather good Tristan and Nina Stemme is in my view the best Isolde on record - caught here at the height of her considerable powers.
Parsifal in the wondrous hands of that greatest of British Wagnerians Reginald Goodall does not disappoint. A deeply powerful experience and Warren Ellsworth a delight as a genuinely youthful hero. One of the great performances and a must for any serious Wagnerian to own.