Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Varnay, Vinay, Malaniuk, Weber, Neidlinger; Jochum. Bayreuth, 1953
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This may be one of my all-time favorite performances of Tristan. Although the broadcast from the previous year with Martha Mödl was certainly a memorable affair, Astrid Varnay possessed the ability to truly deliver the Wagnerian goods, (i.e. formidably power and gleaming high notes) in a way that Mödl couldn't, despite being a gripping actress. From her entrance, Varnay's voice soars over the orchestra with ease. She culminates the evening with a superbly delicate Liebestod. Ramon Vinay's baritonal Tristan brings an anguished quality unlike any other interpreter of this role I can think of. He is particularly thrilling in Act III, seemingly unfazed by the daunting vocal writing. Ludwig Weber is an excellent Marke. The sound is very good.