Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Ligendza, Brilioth, Minton, McIntyre, Moll; C. Kleiber
Listen to a Sample:
Simon Rattle once noted that when he was preparing for his first performance of Tristan und Isolde Bernard Haitink told him “You know it’s not music. It’s something else.” Rattle went on to tell of how he didn’t really understand what Haitink meant until his first experience with Wagner’s colossus. Of course, often times when Tristan is in the wrong hands it is just a series of notes strung together in a certain sequence. However, in the hands of Carlos Kleiber it does transcend the bounds of ordinary music possibilities and becomes (for lack of a better cliché) a religious experience. Kleiber’s approach is not a careful one, and he pushes the tempo, ignores many of Wagner’s very insistent markings, and unleashes the orchestra onto the singers almost wanting to inundate them in sound. The result is a Tristan that doesn’t apologize for the difficulties that it demands of its singers and orchestra, it embraces them; creating an experience that at times seems as strained as the hopeless love that is the subject of this work. Some of the singers seem to cope better with the strain than others. Caterina Ligendza sounds as good as I have ever heard her before, coloring her voice to convey a cold broken woman in Act I and then a woman mesmerized by love in Act II. Helge Brilioth begins the opera with a lot of promise. Unfortunately, under the pressure of Act III his voice begins to buckle and he is compelled to back off some of the more crucial climaxes. As Brangäne, Yvonne Minton delivers a delicate “warning” and Kurt Moll is a world-weary yet debonaire Marke. The sound is excellent.