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Wagner: Tannhäuser Overture; Siegfried-Idyll; Tristan und Isolde


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Audio CD, October 10, 1988
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Wagner: Tannhäuser Overture; Siegfried-Idyll; Tristan und Isolde by Jessye Norman [Soprano]

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Karajan's appearance with Jessye Norman and the Vienna Philharmonic at the 1987 Salzburg Festival produced one of the great Wagner discs of all time, capped by a seething, compelling, white hot realization of the "Liebestod." Karajan knew he had something here, and listening to the performance is likely to leave you weak in the knees. As the account unfolds, everybody's on the edge of their seat--Norman comes in just that way, not sure of what volume to give it, halting, momentarily unsteady; then she cuts everything loose. Her singing is agitated and emotional, practically orgasmic if one must characterize it accurately. But Karajan has the last word, and it is a minute and 12 seconds of the most rapturous playing imaginable, a meditation on the opera's final word ("Lust") and the whole meaning of Tristan und Isolde. This was the payoff for an entire career spent in pursuit of the refinement of orchestral sound. On the same CD, Karajan presides over perhaps the best Siegfried Idyll on record, a lovely, spacious reading full of gentleness and radiance. The piece is exquisitely played by the VPO--very much as they did for Karajan in those final years, communing with him as much as performing the music for us. --Ted Libbey

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Wagner: Tannhäuser - OvertureHerbert von Karajan14:57Album Only
listen  2. Wagner: Siegfried IdyllHerbert von Karajan19:47Album Only
listen  3. Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Prelude To Act 1. Langsam und schmachtendHerbert von Karajan12:09Album Only
listen  4. Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Act 3 - "Mild und leise wie er lächelt" (Isoldes Liebestod)Herbert von Karajan 7:18$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Jessye Norman
  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Wagner, Richard [Composer]
  • Audio CD (October 10, 1988)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Run Time: 54 minutes
  • ASIN: B000001G9H
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,718 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Excellent recording and performance.
ARINUL
In my opinion, this is one of Karajan's finest recorded achievements and one that deserves to be in every collection of Wagner.
cdsullivan@massed.net
The performances are tender, gorgeous, moving, and bathe the listener in an aura of love, humanity, and farewell.
Mogulmeister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By cdsullivan@massed.net on December 27, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This outstanding recording of Wagner selections was made live at the 1987 Salzburg Festival. It certainly captured Karajan at his best. He is quite fabulous here; of course, he draws a glorious sound from the Vienna Philharmonic on top form, but here he is also infallible of pacing, and expressive and insightful of interpretation. This is one of his warmest recordings I know of. He is letting himself get caught up in the music, as he sometimes didn't.
The opening Tannhäuser Overture is nobler in the pilgrims' theme, more sensuous in the Venusberg music, more singing in Tannhäuser's song than any other recording. It is a magnificent performance. The only drawback I can find is that in the more energetic sections of the Venusberg music, Karajan sounds a little heavyweight: not as wild and fleet as Solti. In all other respects, though, this is an incredible performance, and makes you regret again that he never made a legitimate recording of the complete opera.
The Siegfried Idyll is, if anything, even more extraordinary. It is warmest performance I know, unfolding gently and sweetly in a glorious, beautifully rich carpet of sound from the Vienna forces. It is also helped by the clarity and transparency of the magnificent digital recording. It is an ideal reading, and alone is worth the price of the set.
The Tristan excerpts are also on this level. The Act 1 Prelude is magnificent. Emotion is conveyed more clearly than in Karajan's 1971 complete recording, and there is an added clarity of sound and orchestral texture. It is as fine a recording as any, and on the same level as (though very different in style from) Furtwängler's 1952 EMI recording. The Liebestod is gorgeous, one of the two or three greatest recordings of this stunning piece ever made.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on June 18, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I saw part of the film "Karajan in Salzburg" on PBS about ten years ago. I was channel surfing and happened across Jessye Norman singing "Isoldes Liebestod" (the last track on this CD). I wasn't that familiar with Wagner at the time, had just worked my way through the Met's Ring Cycle, and had no notion of what Norman was singing. I couldn't understand her German. Yet I could feel the hair rising up on the back of my neck. By the time she had finished, I was crying.
That brief seven minute film clip was an epiphany for me. I fell desperately in love with Richard Wagner and Jessye Norman (Von Karajan was no slouch, either). I was elated when I came across this Deutsche Grammophon recording that was made during the filming of "Karajan in Salzburg." These four exerpts from "Tannhauser," "Sigfried," and "Tristan und Isolde" are Wagner at his most sublime. The climax is Norman's clear, tender 'Liebestod':
"Do I alone/ hear this melody/ which, so wondrous/ and tender/ in its blissful lament,/ all-revealing,/ gently pardoning,/ sounding from him,/ pierces me through..."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon on March 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This concert was recorded on the Feast of the Assumption in 1987. It was the centrepiece of the turpitudinous `Karajan in Salzburg' documentary. While this disc has never been remastered, the sound is terrific for a live recording where people were hanging off the rafters, ghoulishly trying to glimpse the Maestro before the Grim Reaper brought down the scythe.

The Tannhauser Overture, as performed here, is an exemplar on how to sustain momentum, tension and nobility in Wagner (ineptly played, nothing is coarser in the world). Like Christ's garment, Karajan's conception is seamless and miraculously so. No mere speed merchant, he builds inexorably towards the climax and then lets fly with an orgasmic excitement that is astounding. It is so much more gripping than Abbado's flaccid `Beauty is All' expositions of the same work Wagner: Orchestral Music- Tannhauser / Parsifal / Tristan & Wagner: Gala (Tannhaüser, Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Die Walküre).

Next comes the Siegfried Idyll. What a paean it is to the bliss of domestic life: however momentarily, we are union! There are some colours for which there are no names and they can be glimpsed at 16'40" ff in this performance. It is stupendous. Karajan's touch throughout is unerring and as light as a feather - entranced, the Vienna Philharmonic venture into realms far removed from a mere concert hall.

The second half of the concert is less memorable.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 8, 2012
Format: Audio CD
If you want to be alternately caressed by the cool, tapering fingers of attendant naiads, wafted aloft on roseate clouds, rocked while reclining upon the ample pneumatic charms of Venus's bosom then you might like to buy this disc.

This concert was the product of the late re-emergence of the love-affair between Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic once he had irreparably fallen out with his long-time orchestral spouse in Berlin and the orchestra play for him like one silky, muscular, homogenous organism; I don't think I've ever heard a band play more beautifully. The amount of detail which emerges through the glorious blend of sound is astonishing; never before have I so clearly heard the scurrying sixteenth note figure for the violas in the "Tannhäuser" overture. Balances are perfect -and this was a live concert.

The "Siegfried Idyll" is a miracle of deft tenderness and nuance while the Prelude and Liebestod from "Tristan" make a supremely satisfying conclusion to a master-class in conducting and playing. While I prefer this music delivered a tad more urgently, the sheen on the sound and the application of cumulative tension despite the restrained tempo create an overwhelming erotic tension. Wheeling out Jessye Norman's plush velvet and steel soprano was the ideal programming; what other voice could have so aptly matched the sound of the VPO in this music? (What a pity she never felt able to record the whole role.) The final "unbewusst, höchste Lust" is magical.
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Wagner: Tannhäuser Overture; Siegfried-Idyll; Tristan und Isolde
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