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Wagner: Parsifal [Box set]

Richard Wagner , Sir Georg Solti , Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra , René Kollo , Christa Ludwig , Gottlob Frick , Zoltan Kélémen , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Hans Hotter , Birgit Finnilä Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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?'
See all 13 tracks on this disc
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)
See all 12 tracks on this disc
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)
See all 12 tracks on this disc
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)
See all 10 tracks on this disc

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant surprise March 30, 2000
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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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Solti's best recordings October 18, 2000
Parsifal, Wagner's last masterpiece, has some of the most sublime music he ever wrote, including the "Karfreitagszauber" (Good Friday magic) and the final scene. I have heard three recordings: Barenboim's, Knappertsbusch's (1951), and this Solti. This in almost all respects is a magnificent performance from Solti. He has an ear for balances and textures, bringing out, for instance, the miraculous interweavings of woodwinds, strings and brass in the Prelude. His transitions flow effortlessly, and he gets some glorious, sumptuous playing from the Vienna Philharmonic, first choice for Wagner. Above all, his conducting is more emotional than I have ever heard from him. Instead of either being detatched or only partially involved, he is here totally committed. All the same, the last scene and the Good Friday scene could be the slightest bit more spiritual, which I think has something to do with his tempi. They keep the music moving, which is very important in this work, but very occasionally, I feel like he is rushing a little bit, instead of letting this sublime music flow and unfold. I must stress again, though, that for the most part this is a magnificent reading, and certainly one of the best things he's ever done. He has the best orchestral and choral forces in the world: the Vienna State Opera Chorus, Boys Chorus, and Philharmonic. He is slightly less fortunate with his singers, however. Gottlob Frick portrays Gurnemanz movingly, but he was in his sixties at the time of this recording and is showing his age, wobbling a little bit. Anyway, I'm not sure his voice is very well suited to Gurnemanz. It is quite resonant, but it has a sinister edge - another reviewer said he sounded like a crocodile! Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PROBABLY THE BEST SUNG PARSIFAL August 16, 2006
This is the recording that the hero of Simon Gray's play 'Otherwise Engaged' keeps trying to listen to, but keeps getting interrupted before he can get beyond a few bars.

What he would have heard if he'd got to the end would have been perhaps the best sung of all Parsifals. The cast is a starry one (certainly for its time) and they all acquit themselves with more than usual credit.

Top of the list belongs to Gottlob Frick singing this Gurnemanz as his swansong to the recording studio. If you think of him only as the pitch black villains of Walkure and Gotterdammerung or the authoritarian rulers of Lohengrin and Tannhauser, think again. This is a warmly wise mature Knight of the Grail whose every word and musical phrase is deeply considered and sung with meaning and understanding. No garrulous old bore, this. Fischer-Dieskau, too, brings all his experience of lieder singing to bear on the text and the music. This Amfortas is no mere cypher, but an honourable, flawed and deeply anguished man. Christa Ludwig presents all the sharply contrasted facets of this profoundly complex character to her portrayal of Kundry. Maybe she lacks just the last volt of electricity generated by Martha Modl in Act 2. The one slightly weak link in this estimable array is Rene Kollo, a rather bland Parsifal with insufficient distinction between the 'reine Tor' who erupts on the scene in Act 1 and the wiser, older, world-weary black knight who trudges into the final Act. A glance down the cast list reveals strength in depth right down to a list of Flowermaidens that includes Kiri te Kanawa and Lucia Popp.

As for the conducting, Solti is Solti - exciting, precise, a little hard-driven at times and inclined to be episodic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Parsifal is not Tristan
I am not rating the version, but the opera itself. It is a dark opera with a few "moments", less than the awesome Ring, Tristan and isolde, Lohengrin. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Martin Pitchon
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but only almost great
I've just noticed that my 2008 review of this set was no longer on Amazon. Fortunately (or not) I had saved it on my hard drive, and can re-post it. Read more
Published on October 9, 2012 by L. Lubin
5.0 out of 5 stars Wagner: Parsifal from America to Italy
Tutto bene. Tempo di spedizione ottimo. Cd in ottimo stato. Massima soddisfazione da parte mia e da parte della mia famiglia.
Published on December 24, 2011 by Guido
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 Spiritually unsatisfying, with some problems in lead roles
Solti can't punch Parsifal up with excitement as he did the Ring, given the nature of the music, which is mostly slow and lacking in vocal set pieces - there are famous episodes,... Read more
Published on September 5, 2005 by Santa Fe Listener
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dramatic Parsifal
This is not as sacred as it could be but it's dramatic and has special magic and that does it for me.

The Vienna Philharmonic totally shines! Read more
Published on October 21, 2004 by Ryan Kouroukis
5.0 out of 5 stars Wagner's Final Masterpiece Is A Religious Experience
Richard Wagner's chose for his final opera the subject of the Holy Grail, drawing from the Arthurian legend and forging a spiritual drama that calls for tolerance and communion as... Read more
Published on April 10, 2003 by Rachel Garret
5.0 out of 5 stars Unearthly splendor...
To call Parsifal "a great opera" would be to sell it short. That this music came from the mind of a human being is almost unbelievable! Read more
Published on February 20, 2003 by Eric D. Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars mystical beauty
Parsifal is a very long opera with a somewhat ludicrous plot
however if you are able to take it as a musical and spiritual
experience it can be rewarding for there is... Read more
Published on December 8, 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars A defective Parsifal by sir Georg Solti's vague conducting
This Recording was made under Sir Solti's conducting, and performance by Vienna State Opera members. It has a auite splendor members in singers. Read more
Published on August 10, 2001 by Taewoong
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance of Wagner's ultimate masterpiece.
Like him or not, Wagner was a genius. And Parsifal was his ultimate masterpiece. Most of the music is quite beautiful and many parts are simply sublime. Read more
Published on September 26, 2000 by D. R. Schryer
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