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Antonio Pappano - Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde (Highlights) (2011)

Posted By: tirexiss
Antonio Pappano - Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde (Highlights) (2011)

Antonio Pappano - Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde (Highlights) (2011)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 301 MB | 01:10:29
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI Classics

Although this is a re-issue, and not a re-mastering, everyone with any interest in Wagner, and Tristan and Isolde, simply must have this wonderful set. To be fair, it's really all about Linda Esther Gray, and the outstanding WNO under Goodall. The WNO are brilliant here, and sympathetically recorded by the Decca engineers. You'll hear subtleties in the playing that are lost in other versions, and you can forget about Goodall's supposed ultra-slow tempi, for here he's surely perfect. (The Prelude is actually over a minute faster than Karajan.) But it's Goodall's handling of key moments that is so seductive - and thrilling. For instance, the moment when the love potion takes effect is shattering, helped by the sustained final note. It's the best I've heard.
But what to say about Linda Esther Gray? I remember seeing this performance on stage many years ago in Birmingham (twice), but she manages to scale new heights on this recording. I've got other versions of Tristan of course: my other favourites being the classic Bayreuth Nilsson/Windgassen; the interesting Margaret Price/Kollo, and the exceptional Karajan with Helga Dernesch and Jon Vickers. But here's the thing. In my view, Linda Esther Gray outshines the lot of them. The clarity of her tone, her control of the text, is as good as anyone, notwithstanding their stellar reputations. I could cite many moments when she sends shivers down the spine, but I'll limit myself to a few. At that moment in Act 1 where she cries out for vengeance on Tristan, I doubt that's ever been so spine-chilling. And then, have you ever found yourself reaching that moment in Act 3 when Isolde arrives only to see Tristan die, and from that moment you find yourself almost emotionally changing down a gear while you await the Transfiguration (or Liebestod, if you must)? Well, not here you won't, because this Isolde sings those immediately following lines better than anyone I've either heard or seen, and draws you in completely to her own anguish. And then, in the Transfiguration, which is quite brilliantly sung, I doubt if you've ever heard that very last note she sings - on "Lust" - given out with such clarity. It's given without the sheer power of a Nilsson, but Linda Esther Gray just soars. Usually, that final note gets somewhat diffused into the orchestral sound around it. Not here - not here. Brilliant. Act 1 is compelling, thanks also to the consistently excellent Brangane of Anne Wilkens, who is first class in the Warning scene, and everywhere else, and actually utters the "piercing shriek" called for in the score as Kurwenal breaks in on the lovers in Act 3. On the same theme - on singers actually bothering to follow Wagner's instructions - find me another Isolde who sings that first word after the love potion has taken effect - "Tristan" - "with trembling voice." Gray does - and it matters.
Not to damn the rest of the cast with faint praise, John Mitchinson is a pretty good Tristan - better, I think, in Act 3 than in Act 2; Phillip Joll is an acceptable Kurwenal; and Nicholas Folwell does a fine job as Melot. And Gwynne Howell has pretty much the perfect voice for Marke: if I have a criticism of him is that the Lament is perhaps not as nuanced as it might have been.
But this is all about Linda Esther Gray. Is it mad to think of her as giving here the best Isolde on record - better than Nilsson, better that Dernesch? I don't think it's mad at all. They're different, of course, and I wouldn't want to be without any of them. But for me, on my Desert Island, it's Goodall and Gray.
Wonderful.

Track List:

1. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 1: Vorspiel (Langsam und schmachtend - Belebend) 11:46
2. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 1 Scene 3: "Weh, ach wehe! Dies zu dulden!" (Brangäne, Isolde)10:58
3. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 1 Scene 5: "Tristan! … Isolde! … Treuloser Holder" (Isolde, Tristan, Männer, Brangäne) 06:33
4. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 2 Scene 2: "O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe" (Tristan, Isolde) 07:08
5. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 2 Scene 2: "Lausch, Geliebter!" (Isolde, Tristan)05:58
6. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 2 Scene 2: "So stürben wir, um ungetrennt" (Tristan, Isolde, Brangäne) 06:58
7. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 2 Scene 3: "O König, das kann ich dir nicht sagen" (Tristan) - "Als für ein fremdes Land" (Isolde) 06:46
8. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 3 Scene 2: "O diese Sonne! Ha, dieser Tag!" (Tristan, Isolde) 03:18
9. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 3 Scene 3: "Kurwenal! Hör! Ein zweites Schiff" (Hirt, Kurwenal, Der Steuermann, Brangäne, Melot, Marke) 07:53
10. Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90, Act 3: "Mild und leise wir er lächelt" (Isolde) 06:42

Performers:
Nina Stemme (soprano)
Rolando Villazón (tenor)
Ian Bostridge (tenor)
Matthew Rose (bass)
Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo-soprano)
Jared Holt (baritone)
René Pape (bass)
Olaf Bär (baritone)
Plácido Domingo (tenor)
Renato Balsadonna (director)
Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Antonio Pappano

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