Review by Brian Wilkinson|
This recording is nothing short of a revelation for me. I have been
searching high and low for this recording for some time, and finally
located it at A&B Sound in Canada, with the help of a Web Board
Up until now, my favorite Tannhäuser has been Solti's. First I should
say that I greatly prefer the Paris version over the Dresden. Some
people complain of the clash between the earlier metered style and the
post-Tristan chromaticism. I don't agree; the two styles reflect the
difference between the sensual world of the Venusburg and the conventional
world of Wartburg. Wagner used this contrast in Der Flieglende Holländer
with the Dutchman's monologue moving along freely composed as opposed to
Senta's father and his world.
What we have here is a Paris edition with a bit of the Dresden (the three
soloists at the song contest, a great choice). It is a glorious mono
recording from 1963 of Karajan's only Tannhäuser, performed by the Wiener
Staatsoper. The sound is full and balanced, and audience intrusion
is almost non-existent.
The first thing I was struck with upon first listen was how much of the
music I had never before heard. One hears woodwind and string passages
that somehow got overshadowed on previously released versions. The
interpretation is sensual and strong, subtle and vivid, in all the
Christa Ludwig performs even more sensuously than on Solti's recording.
The Elisabeth by Gré Brouwentstijn is strong in voice and attractive in
character. One feels how Tannhäuser could be truly torn between women
and worlds in this version. In all the others I've heard, I've always
said "stay in Venusburg!"
We have Gottlob Frick as the Landgraf, Eberhard Wächter as Wolfram and
in a nice surprise, Gundula Janowitz as the young shepherd. I never
heard Hans Beirer before, but his voice and character fit the part well;
he sounds like he's been to two hells and back. Because of a little
raggedness to his voice, he may be the one factor others may not like,
but then again Kollo or Domingo were not everyone's favorite either.
On the Solti version the prelude and Venusberg lacked the sensuality of
Karajan, and I used to play K's opening excerpt before switching to
Solti's first scene. Now this version has all I look for in the
introduction and goes right into the first scene without break -- a
wonderful interpretation device. Only the Dresden version needs the
separation between overture and 1st scene.
This is a wonderful, exciting, beautiful recording that I heartily
recommend. It is mid-priced, has a wonderful book with photos but
no translation. Enjoy!
This review is from the now closed Wagner on the Web and it is published
without the author's consent. I haven't been able to get in touch with him.
If the author reads this, please contact me as soon as possible. If you
don't want it here, I'll take it of the site immediately.