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Wagner: Parsifal Box set

4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, October 25, 1990
$66.32 $17.99
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Editorial Reviews

Wagner coined a blockbuster word to describe Parsifal's genre--Bühnenweihfestspiel, or a "festival play to consecrate the stage." In this, his last work, Wagner returns to the Christian mythology that occupied his imagination earlier in Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. But Parsifal is fundamentally different from the earlier more simplistic, heroic works. Parsifal tries to put the church into the theater, instead of simply giving church themes a theatrical dressing. Parsifal is probably the least accessible Wagnerian opus--the dreamy 19th-century view of Christian mysticism being especially hard for a 20th-century intellect to come to terms with. But those who invest in the effort of understanding the score will be rewarded with a sense of the mystic communion. Though Kollo is sometimes overwrought as the Grail Knight, Fischer-Dieskau is an extremely pitiable and sympathetic Amfortas, and a generally excellent cast carries the day with Frick as Gurnemanz being the highlight. Solti conducts the Wiener Philaharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) with mystic solemnity. --Christian C. Rix

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Parsifal: Act One: Vorspiel
  2. Parsifal: Act One: 'He! Ho! Waldhuter ihr' (Gurnemanz)
  3. Parsifal: Act One: 'Seht dort, die wilde Reiterin!'
  4. Parsifal: Act One: 'Recht so! - Habt Dank!' (Amfortas)
  5. Parsifal: Act One: 'He, du da! Was liegst du dorte wie ein wildes Tier?'
  6. Parsifal: Act One: 'Das ist ein andres' (Gurnemanz)
  7. Parsifal: Act One: 'Titurel, der fromme Held, der kannt' ihn wohl'
  8. Parsifal: Act One: 'Vor allem nun: der Speer kehr' uns zuruck!'
  9. Parsifal: Act One: 'Weh! Weh!'
  10. Parsifal: Act One: 'Du konntest morden, hier, im heil'gen Walde' (Gurnemanz)
  11. Parsifal: Act One: 'Wo bist du her?' (Gurnemanz)
  12. Parsifal: Act One: 'Den Vaterlosen gebar die Mutter' (Kundry)
  13. Parsifal: Act One: 'So recht! So nach des Grales Gnade' (Gurnemanz)

Disc: 2

  1. Parsifal: Act One: 'Vom Bade kehrt der Konig heim' (Gurnemanz)
  2. Parsifal: Act One: 'Nun achte wohl, und lass mich seh'n' (Gurnemanz)
  3. Parsifal: Act One: 'Mein Sohn Amfortas, bist du am Amt' (Titurel)
  4. Parsifal: Act One: 'Nein! Lasst ihn unenthullt' (Amfortas)
  5. Parsifal: Act One: 'Nehmet hin meinen Leib' (Stimmen)
  6. Parsifal: Act One: 'Was stehet du noch da?' (Gurnemanz)
  7. Parsifal: Act Two: Vorspiel
  8. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Die Zeit ist da' (Klingsor)
  9. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Erwachst du? Ha!' (Klingsor)
  10. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Jetzs schon erklimmt er die Burg' (Klingsor)
  11. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Hier war das Tosen!'
  12. Parsifal: Act Two: 'ihr schonen Kinder' (Parsifal)

Disc: 3

  1. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Komm, komm! Holder Knabe!'
  2. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Parsifal! - Weile' (Kundry)
  3. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Ich sah das Kind an seiner Mutter Brust' (Kundry)
  4. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Wehe! Wehe! was tat ich?' (Parsifal)
  5. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Amfortas! - Die Wunde!' (Parsifal)
  6. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Grausamer! Fühlst du im Herzen' (Kundry)
  7. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Auf Ewigkeit wärst du verdammt' (Parsifal)
  8. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Vergeh, unseliges Weib!' (Parsifal)
  9. Parsifal: Act Two: 'Halt da! Dich bann'ich mit der rechten wehr!' (Klingsor)
  10. Parsifal: Act Three: Vorspiel
  11. Parsifal: Act Three: 'Von dorther kam das Stöhnen' (Gurnemanz)
  12. Parsifal: Act Three: 'Du tolles Weib! Hast du kein Wort für mich?' (Gurnemanz)

Disc: 4

  1. Parsifal: Act 3: 'In düstrem Waffenschmucke?' (Gurnemanz)
  2. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Heil mir, dass ich dich wiederfinde!' (Parsifal)
  3. Parsifal: Act 3: 'O Gnade! Höchstes Heil!' (Gurnemanz)
  4. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Nicht so! - Die heil'ge Quelle selbst' (Gurnemanz)
  5. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Du wuschest mir die Füsse' (Parsifal)
  6. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Wie dünkt mich doch die Aue heut so schön' (Parsifal)
  7. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Mittag. - Die Stund'ist da' (Gurnemanz)
  8. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Geleiten wir im bergenden Schrein' (Ritter)
  9. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Ja, Wehe! Wehe! Weh' über mich' (Amfortas)
  10. Parsifal: Act 3: 'Nur eine Waffe taugt' (Parsifal)

Product Details

  • Performer: René Kollo, Christa Ludwig, Gottlob Frick, Zoltan Kélémen, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, et al.
  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Georg Solti
  • Composer: Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B0000041RC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,976 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
For the very modest price asked, this set can be recommended, but at mid or full price would have to be passed over. The sound is definitely mono quality and below average even by comparison to other historical Wagner recordings from the 1950s. The singing is of consistently high standard apart perhaps from Fritz Uhl's assumption of the title role, which I found to be lacking in lyric beauty. Hans Hotter as expected was splendid in Gurnemanz, although he might have been trying to enliven his role somewhat by vocally overacting in places. For me Kurt Moll remains peerless in this role among modern singers. Karajan's tempi are much brisker than in his studio recording for DGG; for instance, the Act I Prelude is done in just over 12 minutes. He does not push as hard as did Boulez in the Bayreuth 1966 production. I cannot give a detailed assessment of the orchestral playing due to the very recessed sound, but what one can hear of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra - among them members of the Vienna Philharmonic - is quite agreeable. The presentation on only 3 very long CDs is close to ideal. A brief synopsis is provided but no libretto. I still rank the Karajan and Solti studio recordings well ahead of this one, but for the price it is well worth hearing.
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Format: Audio CD
For those who don't know, this is the famous 1961 Vienna recording. Other cast members are Walter Berry as Klingsor, Fritz Uhl as Parsifal and, Christa Ludwig as Kundrty in Act II, with Elisabeth Hoengen performing the role in the outer acts. Among the Flowermaidens are Gundula Janowitz, Hilde Gueden, and Anneliese Rothenberger.
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By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The performance is fine, with a great cast. But the sound is quite bad, even for 1961. Plenty of recordings from the 30's and 40's sound much better.
The CD booklet has a summary of each act, but no libretto.
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Format: Audio CD
As great as a Maria Callas fan as I am, I cannot recommend this Parsifal to those who want to understand the opera. This truly is a great performance, yet the cuts are so all over the place that the whole idea behind Parsifal, the innocent fool who would bring salvation to the Knights of the Grail, is ruined. I would praise Maria Callas' Kundry and Boris Christoff's Parsifal superlatively, especially La Divina's Kundry. I think she offers one of the most complete Kundry's on record, each note and each word relished beautifully. Each psychological inflection is exposed, and we have a great understanding of what the character of Kundry, who desires only an endless sleep after centuries of reincarnation, really wants. Maria Callas offers that, and I would put her Kundry beside those of Christa Ludwig's, Martha Modl's, and Jessye Norman's. And, because of her unique voice, being able to sing all the female voice's parts, she can be said to have the most emotionally sung Kundry, and beautifully sung too. This was fat Callas with power and artistic intelligence. She was also able to give life to one of opera's most complex heroines.

Boris Christoff is a great Gurnemanz, but once again, because of the obnoxiously huge cuts, his contributions to the part have been cut down, but not too considerably.

Vittorio Gui could have made a landmark Italian Parsifal, but his cuts have cut short some integral parts of the score. Still, Callas' Kundry is a great addition to your library.
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Format: Audio CD
After listening to Solti's highly - but effectively - dramatized account of the Ring, this performance comes off as quite an astonishing contrast. To my ears, they would not appear at first to be by the same conductor, but they truly are. Frankly when I purchased this opera in its original LP format some 15 years ago, I did so primarily to enjoy the singing and orchestral playing. It turned out that the conducting was every bit as good as the rest. Needless to say Solti does not overdramatize or drive hard at all, and he does not play this predominantly slow score any slower than necessary. While Hans Knappertsbusch enjoys a formidable repuatation in this opera, I have to rank Solti's performance even higher, as it has better orchestral playing and I think more sensible tempo. Some critics have complained that Solti's recording somehow suffers from a lack of spirituality, without being able to explain exactly why this is so. I find this kind of criticism somewhat esoteric at best and unfair at worst. Speaking only for myself, I found it quite a moving experience. I would rank it alongside the Karajan set. My favourite conductor of all in this music remains Dr. Karl Muck, from the 1920s, but this set, in beautiful stereo, is a strong contender. The orchestral playing is often very beautiful and the singing is generally excellent, although perhaps Rene Kollo in the title role is slightly overparted. The choral singing is absolutely superb and the Vienna Boys Choir deserves special recognition here. Solti conducts with commendable restraint and dedication. There is a particularly moving photo of him hard at work; he appears as though his very soul is on fire. This set is also distinguished by very thoughtful and intelligent commentary, and by tasteful and handsome presentation. All in all, this is a very rewarding issue.
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Format: Audio CD
The sound quality of this radio broadcast recording is lackluster, although this does not prevent it from being enjoyable. The performance is in Italian, not German, and the score is abridged--a practice which is often considered a greater sacrilege in dealing with Wagner's operas than with those of any other composer. Baldelli gives a disappointing performance in the title role. Yet nonetheless this recording is recommended because it features Maria Callas as Kundry, one of the few Wagner roles she sang early in her career and the only one preserved in a commercially available recording. For me personally, one of the most memorable moments in the history of recorded opera is Kundry's entrance in Act I, when Callas' unmistakable voice is first heard entering the world of Wagner. I almost felt like asking, "Maria? Is that really you, here, in Wagner-land?"

Callas' wails of terror when Kundry realizes that she is again in Klingsor's power and, above all, the ferocious power of Callas' high note when she tells Parsifal that she laughed at Christ on his way to the cross will knock you back in your seat. Since the recording is primarily valuable as a document of Callas' performance (although the excellent playing of the orchestra under Vittorio Gui shines through the limited sound), it doesn't really matter that the performance is in Italian, and the only cuts anyone will regret are those which diminish Kundry's role. Unfortunately there are a few such cuts, most notably in Act II, Scene II, although most of Kundry's most important moments are there.
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