Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Hopf, Ligendza, Balzani, Neidlinger, Sotin, Dermota; C. Kleiber. Wien, 1973


Listen to a Sample:


The star of this recording without any doubt is the conductor, Carlos Kleiber.  It was a great shame that he limited himself to such a narrow repertory of operas, however for the operas that were close to his heart like Bohème, Rosenkavalier and of course Tristan und Isolde, he delivered performances of incredible nuance and insight.  For example he begins the Liebestod with the most transparent pianos that I have ever heard from a Wagnerian orchestra and staggers a crescendo until the great plagal climax at the end (listen to the sample below).  It is truly superb music making.  The cast is very good as well.  Catarina Ligendza sang Isolde in many Kleiber performances of this opera and seems to feel perfectly in sync with his vision of the piece.  Her voice is on the lighter side but she brings a frailty that is nice.  Hans Hopf's singing is a bit erratic.  He is excellent in the dramatic outbursts but when he has to sing softly his voice can be painfully under pitch.  Hans Sotin is a rich Marke.  Gustav Neidlinger's Kurwenal is a bit gruff but he is always dramatically compelling.  The sound is very good

Catarina Ligendza sings the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Bayreuth, 1976. Carlos Kleiber, conductor

OD 10561-3