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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Job Well Done, November 19, 2008
My personal preference "Tristan und Isolde" , like so many others, is the famous '60s Bayreuth recording conducted by Karl Bohm with the unstoppable Birgit Nilsson and a gratifyingly musical Wolfgang Windgassen, along with Christa Ludwig, Eberhard Wachter, and Martti Talvela. In other words, the sixties "A List". It is a performance that is simply mesmerizing in such a way that it has enthralled Wagner devotees now for over four decades, with no sign of its' legions diminishing. What is even more important about this recording is that the male lead, Wolfgang Windgassen, is an artist, whatever his virtues might be, who was never ordained vocally to sing the Wagnerian tenor roles he specialized in for over two decades. It is as good an example as one can make that an intelligent singer can sing for a very long time, even in a repertoire he wasn't exactly born to do. Windgassen, it seems to me, had the rare gift of being absolutely objective about his limitations, and by finding a way to sing this difficult music without ever overstepping those limitations, enjoyed a long, successful and I am sure gratifying career.

And this brings one to the Tristan on this present recording. Placido Domingo, it seems to me, truly understands his voice, its' strengths as well as its' limitations, and has seldom been tempted to step outside the boundaries he has set for himself. The reward for doing that is a career that is now in excess of four decades. FOUR DECADES! It boggles the mind.

And what is the downside of this rare intelligence? Well, it is obvious. There are certain roles he would probably have loved to sing that he simply felt were not wise for him to do. At least on stage. One of them, I am quite sure, was Tristan. I am sure he could have done the role on stage. I am equally sure it would have taken its' toll, as it almost invariably does. Domingo withstood the temptation.

And now, in the twilight of his career, he offers us a recorded Tristan that is really quite remarkable. He retains a great deal of the beauty his voice had when we all sat up and took notice of him 30 or more years ago. His vocal line is intact. The role, though relentless, is not high, which allows Domingo to avoid the precarious high notes any tenor in his mid-60s might be concerned about. And, of course, it allows him to sing a roll that concentrates its' range in that part of Domingo's voice that still works beautifully. So, here we have a Tristan sung very well, perhaps even the best ever recorded, at least in stereo. That said, Domingo doesn't quite portray the anguish required in Act Three. In fact, at least to me, he sounds just a bit light of voice, if you can imagine, in the final pages of his role. I think for a tenor to really pull off Act Three he needs stage experience in the roll. Listen to Windgassen. Or even the great Jon Vickers in the Karajan set. They have that extra something here which actual on stage performance gives.

Nina Stemme is quite fine here as Isolde. Admittedly, it is not possible for me to tell if she has been abetted by the recording engineers. I can only go by what I hear, and I hear a very fine artist taking measure of a difficult role, and, on all counts, equitting herself well. If this recording is any evidence, she should have a fine career ahead of her.

The rest of the cast is first rate. Pappano's conducting and the Covent Garden forces playing can not be faulted.

I found the digital recording, a first for "Tristan und Isolde", to be outstanding. It is very wide ranging, and I imagine fairs best on sound systems that are up to the digital demands of today.

This is not, as I have said, the first "Tristan" to be added to my collection. And it is certainly not the only "Tristan" in my collection. But it holds a very special spot in my collection, and I am thrilled to have it.

Der Ring der Nibelungen
Der Ring der Nibelungen
Price: $82.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give me Rings, lots of Rings!!!, November 17, 2008
I'm mad for Rings! Give me Rings. Lots of Rings. I want them all. Solti. Krauss. Furtwangler. Karajan. Keilberth. Boulez. Barenboim. Anyone else conduct one? Gimme it. I gotta have it, caress it, fondle it, make love to it, possess it, own it.


However, on the subject of this one, if you can only have one (may the Gods forgive you) it is good. If you are looking for a vintage '50s Ring Cycle from the Holy Land (that would be Bayreuth), I would seriously suggest you search out the Testament release of the Keilberth Ring from a couple of years later. Casting is much the same, and it was recorded, but never released, by Decca. IN STEREO!!!!!

Yes, the sound is primitive, though not as primative as this set. But the performance, thanks in great part to the simply astounding Astrid Varnay and her various legendary cohorts, is beyond belief.

Now, in the immortal words of Wotan: Geh! GEH!! (Walkure, Act 2).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2011 3:46 PM PDT

Mahler: Symphony No.8
Mahler: Symphony No.8

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding Mahler, October 20, 2008
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.8 (MP3 Music)
Listen to it yourself.

Don't let anyone else tell you what to think.

You will know what you are hearing.

There will be no doubt left in your mind.

Switched-On Boxed Set
Switched-On Boxed Set
19 used & new from $179.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Admit it, they're good!, October 18, 2008
This review is from: Switched-On Boxed Set (Audio CD)
I remember back in the late sixties the original LP of "Switched on Bach" started showing up in record stores and causing quite a storm. Of course, being the proper musical snob and "purist" I was, I discounted them as being nothing better sounding than "tuned rubber bands".

The trouble was, it was being played everywhere. You couldn't avoid it. And I was forced to listen. Little by little, I must admit, I was won over. First of all, the interpretations really aren't half bad. And that sound! After a while, you find it kinda eats its' way into your soul (well, it was the sixties, you know)!

Anyway, all these years later I'm still a musical snob. I'm still a "purist". And I still get much enjoyment out of Wendy Carlos and her musical creativity.

And, by-the-way, on CD they sound mahvelous!!

Mysterious Island - Original Film Soundtrack
Mysterious Island - Original Film Soundtrack
Price: $9.49

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Herrmann's Original Recording, October 18, 2008
Contrary to the prattle of another reviewer on this site, this is absolutely NOT a "re-recording" of Bernard Herrmann's great score for "Mysterious Island". This is the Original Soundtrack Recording, conducted by the composer himself.

While the recently released newer version, re-recorded and beautifully conducteed by William Stromberg, certainly has it's virtues, two of which are it's completeness and the fine recorded sound of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra as captured by Tribute Records, it stands as a suppliment, not a replacement, for Bernard Herrmann's original recording. They compliment each other. They exist in tandem, and are both welcome additions to the film score oeuvre.

Cuisinart DTC-975 Programmable Automatic Brew-and-Serve 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker, Black (Certified Refurbished)
Cuisinart DTC-975 Programmable Automatic Brew-and-Serve 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker, Black (Certified Refurbished)
3 used & new from $69.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best. End of story., September 21, 2008
I've had this coffee maker for about five years of flawless service, making at least one pot a day, seven days a week, etc. I have never had a problem screwing on the lid and I've never had a problem closing the filter basket. By-the-way, those who complain about the lid being difficult to unscrew to the "pour position" and that the coffee then doesn't stay hot are nuts. There is no pour position. The lid stays in place during the brewing cycle and during pouring afterward. It self seals. If you are unscrewing the lid, for some insane reason, you are needlessly breaking the seal, which is why your coffee is getting cold. Mine stays hot for easily five hours.

And for those who have "the 10 cup version" and try to piggy back whatever problems they've had with it onto this unit, I would just say that this coffee maker DOES NOT HAVE a 10 cup version. While Cuisinart makes a 10 cup thermal carafe coffee maker, it is an entirely different design.

Finally, in the last week or so, after all these years, my wonderful coffee maker has developed a leak. A drip, actually, during the brew cycle, from behind the filter basket. I think maybe a seal may have broken. Very tight area with poor visibility. But, not to worry! When I bought this unit I liked it so much I bought a backup, figuring the time would come to replace it and it wouldn't be available. So I just pulled the box out of the hall closet, opened it up and plugged in my brand new coffee maker. The only difference is I've gone from black to white.

I am pleasantly surprised to find this machine still on the market. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

However, I bought both of mine, back then, remanufactured, for $39.95 each - shipping included.

Ah.....those were the days.


Symphony in F Sharp / Lieder
Symphony in F Sharp / Lieder
32 used & new from $1.76

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice., September 20, 2008
If you are appreciative of Korngold, you will find this CD quite nice. In fact, even if you aren't so fond of old Erich, at this price, this CD is still hard to pass up.

For starters, this is probably the best recorded version of Korngold's Symphony in F#. And before you start grumbling, yes, I know, there is precious little here that is new. But it is so beautifully performed here. And for those who are enamored of Korngold's film music, he preserved some of his best themes here. See if you can find them.

The songs are also a delight, as is "Glück, das mir verblieb" {Marietta's Lied) from Korngold's arguably most famous non-film work, the opera Die Tote Stadt". All are enlightened by the beautiful voice and artistry of soprano Barbara Hendricks, yet another artist we hear far too little of.

We hear so precious little on CD these days from the venerable Philadelphia Orchestra, we tend to forget what a wonderful orchestra it is. All are ably conducted here by Franz Welser-Most, born in 1060, who became Music Director of another great American orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, in 2002 (his contract has been extended to 2016. In 2010 he will add the Music Directorship of the Vienna State Opera to his duties.

This is a winner.

Korngold: Symphony in F Sharp; Einfache Lieder; Mariettas Lied
Korngold: Symphony in F Sharp; Einfache Lieder; Mariettas Lied
32 used & new from $0.62

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to it and you'll love it., September 20, 2008
You simply must dismiss the rather boorish review offered by, apparently, Amazon's resident carpenter. For he certainly knows little, if anything, about music.

This is a wonderful recording. The recorded sound is warm, vibrant and immediate. The orchestra, the venerable Philadelphia from which we hear far too little these days, is magnificent.

The songs and aria are performed magnificently by the great American soprano, Barbara Hendricks.

And all are well served by the spot on conducting of Franz Welser-Most.

This is a winner.

Montserrat Caballé - French Opera Arias
Montserrat Caballé - French Opera Arias
Price: $9.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yum!, September 14, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Nowadays buying a Caballe compilation set is a lot like playing poker: You get the cards you are dealt and try to make a hand out of them. This one is the exception to the rule. Except for the odd addition of the "Manon Lescaut" duet, which is from the Met's farewell concert of Rudolf Bing, This CD is exactly the same program as the original LP.

I remember when the LP was released there was a lot of carping about the generally slowish tempi and that the conductor, Reynald Giovaninetti, was being overly indulgent of Mme. Caballe. Giovaninetti was a long time collaborater of Mme. Caballe, and I think he knew exactly what he was doing here. It works for me perfectly, and the Philharmonia Orchestra is outstanding as a bonus.

Unless I am mistaken, this is Caballe's only recording for Deutsche Grammophon. They provided her with an excellent accoustic. It is also, I think, her only foray, at least on record, into french opera. Fortunately, she is in gorgeous voice throughout.

The stand out for me is her absolutely stunning performance of "Dupuis le jour" from "Louise". Her breath control and sense of line are beyond description. What a remarkable artist she was.

A side note: There are those who grumble that she really wasn't all that good "in the house", as it were. I simply disagree. I saw her several times in live performance, including a rather famous "Ernani" at the Met. In fact, she was, as we all know, a large woman. She understood this as well. Rather than making a fool of herself, she had the good sense to come out on stage, stake out her territory, and sing, sing, sing. I don't think anyone ever felt short changed at the end of a Caballe performance.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2012 2:31 AM PDT

Progressive International Clearly Fresh Bread Keeper
Progressive International Clearly Fresh Bread Keeper
Offered by Urban Bargains
Price: $34.98
13 used & new from $17.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, July 20, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the second of this item I have purchased. The first, which I paid quite a bit more for several years ago, is still in use and fine. However, I often have two types of bread available at the same time. Hence, the second keeper. This cleverly designed keeper and slicing guide do the job for me perfectly. IMHO, anyone who has a problem with them simply isn't using them as designed.

Hint: Regardless of the picture, the slicing guide is not meant to be left inside the bread keeper at the same time a loaf of bread is being stored.

Not rocket science, boys and girls, just simple logic.

And, by the way, it arrived quickly and very well packed.

A bargain.

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