Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (Excerpts from Act II & III) - Braun, Seider, Klose, Hotter, Frick; Kempe. München, 1955
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Although there is nothing wrong with the singers in the title roles of this Tristan und Isolde, the real interest lies in some of the supporting roles, particularly the King Marke of Gottlob Frick, who demonstrates that despite his penchant for evil characters his voice was as beautiful as any other bass of his era. Hans Hotter, who would go on to sing Marke, is an ideal Kurwenal whose compassion for the dying Tristan in Act III adds another level of tragedy to the proceedings. Margarete Klose, although at the tail end of her career, displays a luscious, auburn-hued mezzo soprano voice whose middle range effortlessly cuts through the orchestra particularly during Brangäne’s warning. As for the leads, Helena Braun acquits the role admirably but lacks the vocal beauty of some of her colleagues. The same could be said for August Seider. That is, of course, in comparison to their great Wagnerian contemporaries. If these two were around today their contributions would no doubt be much in demand as they manage to actually sing the roles without the strain that is all to common in Wagner. Rudolf Kempe proves himself a master of atmosphere, creating moments that are sensual, taught and bleak. The sound is fair.