Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Dernesch, Vickers, Ludwig, Berry, Ridderbusch; Karajan. Salzburg, 1972


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Made with the same cast with whom Karajan recorded the opera, this live Tristan und Isolde catches a less polished, but more heartfelt performance of the opera. Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry’s performances as the servants would alone move this record to the top of my recommendations list, but there is so much more. Karl Ridderbusch’s Marke is a pillar of strength, and the smaller roles are handled expertly by the likes of Peter Schreier, Bernd Weikl and Gerhard Unger. The heroine of the opera, Helga Dernesch, is perhaps more divisive. She may stray off-pitch a bit too often for an ideal Isolde, but the power of the Irish Princess is emphatic and always present. Jon Vickers, of course, is exemplary. If any other Tristan has produced a more harrowing third act, I would prefer not to know. Karajan handles this opera like a painting, shaping the all-important atmosphere of the lovers' long night just as vividly as Van Gogh would a field of sunflowers. The sound is exemplary, but unfortunately there is a flaw in the audio as Melot’s forces arrive in Act III.

OD 11237-3

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