Author Topic: Wagner's Parsifal  (Read 81703 times)

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Offline Moonfish

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #140 on: November 16, 2014, 12:06:02 PM »
I think so. It was also available from Teldec (the version I own).




Sarge

I have never seen that rendition before. It seems like the Knappertsbusch 1951 has more reincarnations than I could ever imagine......  ???
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Offline Moonfish

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #141 on: November 16, 2014, 12:08:32 PM »
I have read that it is, though I have never heard it, it would not surprise me if it was remarkable, as time goes by and more live Kubelik surfaces, we get the chance to appreciate how superb he was. His 'live' Meistersingers is my favourite version.

I also do enjoy the Karajan Parsifal and on DVD the Met performance is marvelous.

Mike

PS.....I have ordered it after rereading the reviews.

You are referring to the recent "blood" performance on the Met? It certainly received raving reviews!
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Offline Moonfish

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #142 on: November 16, 2014, 12:15:19 PM »
The Kubelik is an excellent recording of Parsifal...When I first listened to it, I wasn't that impressed, but some months later...wow! The prelude is done wonderfully: the way that the conductor manages to juxtapose the different motifs of this stunning composition is admirable. The orchestral response is also very, very good.

It is on the slow side, although it isn't "solemn" (and I mean this as a compliment). Some passages are really very slow (the transformation music in Act 1, for instance), but not to the point of dragging.

Of the soloists, the Gurnemanz of Kurt Moll stands out...one of the best I've ever heard. Firm tone, noble delivery, very clear pronunciation. I think that in the title role, the younger King (on Boulez's set) is better than his older self here, but it still is a good performance. Yvonne Minton, an artist I hugely admire, is a "different" Kundry, and again I think she is better on her other recording (conducted Armin Jordan--the soundtrack to the Syberberg film). Franz Mazura is as good a Klingsor as any (I'm partial, as I saw him in the role in Bayreuth when I was very young), and Weikl is an accomplished Amfortas, on the lyrical side (again, I saw him in the role in Bayreuth).

With Knappertsbusch and the Boulez that you've ordered, you'll have the recordings of two conductors who have set standards in this piece, I'd say (Boulez took the Wieland Wagner staging in Bayreuth over from Knappertsbusch after the latter's death--with a one year interregnum of Cluytens in 1965). Knappertsbusch and Boulez are almost complete opposites, but both very valid approaches to the piece. I do think, though, that Knappertsbusch 62 is marred by the poor Gurnemenz of Hans Hotter (a wonderful artist, but here well past his prime and underlining the character's status as an elderly man--something I find really unpleasant).

The Kubelik is an excellent complement to Knappertsbusch and Boulez. Solti is, in my opinion, slightly inferior to any of these (except for Christa Ludwig's breathtaking portrayal of Kundry).

If you want something completely different, though, try the Herbert Kegel on Berlin Classics...it's a live (concert) performance of the opera in Leipzig, the first performance of the Bühnenweihfestspiel in the German Democratic Republic (the piece had been banned until then)...it's a very quick, no-nonsense version, but that sheds new light on this wonderful composition....



Thanks for all those thoughts, Ritter!  The Kubelik performance does sound very intriguing.  I hope that more of Kubelik's recordings will be brought forward in the future (especially vocal/opera performances).  Your Kegel recommendation is very interesting. I was not aware of its existence and the reviews on Amazon certainly paints a picture as intriguing as Kubelik's performance......
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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #143 on: November 16, 2014, 03:52:45 PM »
Just ordered the Boulez from Amazon MP after realizing it was going for less than $17.
The cover art on the Kubelik, btw, is from a work by the same Jean Deville recently highlighted on the bad cover art thread.

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #144 on: November 16, 2014, 07:14:16 PM »
I have never seen that rendition before. It seems like the Knappertsbusch 1951 has more reincarnations than I could ever imagine......  ???

I've got it on LPs, my third complete opera recording, IIRC.  I've also got that Teldec release.  That was its second LP incarnation BTW, on Decca's budget Richmond label on 5 LPs.  The original Decca release took six.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #145 on: December 06, 2014, 04:29:05 AM »
I have now listened to the Kubelik Parsifal that arrived this week: thanks Ritter for tipping the balance, prompting me to go for it. The performance is all that you suggest. The music glows. It is slow, but that suits me, there is no stasis or wallowing.

Mike
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Offline knight66

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #146 on: December 06, 2014, 04:29:55 AM »
You are referring to the recent "blood" performance on the Met? It certainly received raving reviews!

Sorry Moonfish, I missed this, yes I was referring to that production.

Mike
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Offline ritter

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #147 on: December 06, 2014, 08:43:36 AM »
I have now listened to the Kubelik Parsifal that arrived this week: thanks Ritter for tipping the balance, prompting me to go for it. The performance is all that you suggest. The music glows. It is slow, but that suits me, there is no stasis or wallowing.

Mike
Glad you enjoyed the recording, Mike:) It is very accomplished.

Regards,

Rafael
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 11:51:54 AM by ritter »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #148 on: December 06, 2014, 08:35:15 PM »
Of the three Parsifal recordings I own (Bohm, Barenboim, Karajan), I still come back to the Bohm recording. Such a smoldering performance by all involved.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #149 on: December 07, 2014, 12:17:27 AM »
Of the three Parsifal recordings I own (Bohm, Barenboim, Karajan), I still come back to the Bohm recording. Such a smoldering performance by all involved.
Are you sure, Mirror Image? AFAIK, there's no recording of Parsifal under Böhm avaialble (studio or live). He didn't conduct the piese that much (he did do it at the Met, but certainly not at Bayreuth). Might you be thinking of Clemens Krauss (Bayreuth '53) or Boulez (Bayreuth '70)?

Cheers,

ritter
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #150 on: December 07, 2014, 07:15:18 AM »
Are you sure, Mirror Image? AFAIK, there's no recording of Parsifal under Böhm avaialble (studio or live). He didn't conduct the piese that much (he did do it at the Met, but certainly not at Bayreuth). Might you be thinking of Clemens Krauss (Bayreuth '53) or Boulez (Bayreuth '70)?

Cheers,

Whoops! You're right, Ritter. I'm thinking of Tristan und Isolde. :P What can I say other than I was extremely tired when I typed that out last night. I meant Solti, Karajan, and Barenboim are the Parsifal performances I own and my favorite is the HvK. For me, it's hard to beat HvK in Wagner in general.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 08:46:04 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #151 on: December 07, 2014, 10:59:57 AM »
Below is a review of a Covent Garden Parsifal that I have. The review is by John Woods. I pretty much agrree with it, though don't understand his grudging praise for Vickers, who is compelling and emphatically does not sound dry. Vickers regarded Parsifal as his greatest role, he never recorded it commercially.




With a running time of almost 4 hours and 45 minutes, this new release of Wagner's Parsifal, given on 8 May 1971, is over an hour longer than 2 other live recordings I have to hand, and is indeed one of the longest on record. Upon listening to the Act I Prelude, the number of glaringly obvious split notes from the brass can't help but make one feel a little pang of pity for the audience, knowing they were in for a very long night. But if Reginald Goodall's quest for an ethereal quiet and stasis made his orchestra tense to start with, by the end of the prelude everybody appears to have settled into the part they have to play in realising Goodall's vision, and a certain understated orchestral sumptuousness from everybody, including the brass, quickly becomes one of the defining characteristics of this performance. Although an essay in the liner notes that accompany the release, written by John Deathridge, says that 'it is still difficult to imagine [Wagner] approving of Goodall's first act, which is surely much too long, and indeed constantly verges on incoherence', I found that I got used to the tempi, rather as one did with Klemperer, and accept the validity of the approach.

Wagner's music is of course immensely difficult to sing from many points of view, but one thing it does tend to have is an abundance of places to breathe, which means the slow tempi do not necessarily pose the singers with the problems that might arise were they to be faced with the same situation in Mozart or Verdi. The musical environment created by Goodall therefore allows his artists to create immensely detailed characterisations, which suits this cast particularly well

As Gurnemanz, the Belgian bass Louis Hendrikx brings a beautiful voice, magnificent, elegant gravitas, and something akin to a Lieder singer's attention to text, although it is interesting to note that Hendrikx in fact sang very few Lieder during his career. His operatic debut came as late as 1963, but he quickly made Wagner the cornerstone of his repertoire and his experience with the role shows in this brilliantly nuanced performance.

Amy Shuard, one of Covent Garden's post-war resident dramatic sopranos who deserves to be better remembered than she is, presents a Kundry of fascinating depths. The voice is perhaps not as immediately seductive or glamorous as some who have been acclaimed in the role, but she certainly delves into the character and phrases beautifully, rising to some thrilling climactic high notes in Act II.

Like Shuard, the voice of Jon Vickers has been surpassed in terms of beauty by other interpreters of the title role, but Vickers really seems to get to the heart of the matter, as far as one can with Parsifal. Somehow, one always feels he is creating something very specific, be it during the character's sprawling introspection, active discourse or passionate outbursts. He is on excellent form in this performance in terms of pure vocal production, injecting more colour into his often rather dry timbre than elsewhere in his discography. Vickers is amongst those singers where one is told one had to experience the voice live in order to appreciate its greatness, but it is a credit to the quality and 'style' of the sound on this recording that the greatness somehow comes across.

Such illustrious names as Norman Bailey, Michael Langdon and Donald McIntyre round out a cast of principals notable for being what one might call thinking man's singers. Of the smaller roles, the young Kiri Te Kanawa as the first flower maiden is in such lustrous, fresh voice that the impact is quite distracting, and the other five flower maidens suffer quite badly by comparison, although they do have more of a sense of style than their glamorous colleague. Te Kanawa certainly got noticed in contemporary reviews of the performances, and it is fascinating to have this document of her early years in the Covent Garden ensemble, just months ahead of her shooting to stardom as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro later in 1971.

This Parsifal is not without its idiosyncrasies. Shuard lacks the refulgence of other Kundrys like Gwyneth Jones or Christa Ludwig, and there are Parsifals with more alluring voices, such as James King and Placido Domingo. But I have yet to hear a recording that continues to reveal so much on repeated listening. Vickers, in fairly typical self-congratulatory mode, said in his now famous interview with Brice Duffie 'I can assure you that the Parsifal at Covent Garden [is] talked about to this day' and the release of this recording will ensure that his assertion remains the case for a long time yet
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Offline ritter

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #152 on: December 07, 2014, 11:22:56 AM »
I suppose it's this issue which you have, Mike:



I must say I dislike this recording profoundly, as I think Goodall's sluggish tempos and exaggerated pathos turn the score into a parody of itself, and manage to eliminate all the astonishing dramatic impetus this work has. But then again, I come from the "fast Parsifal school" (the Boulez 1970 recording from Bayreuth was my introduction to the piece), so I am a bit biased. But what Kubelik achieves while being slow, I think Goodall most definitely does not.

It is a pity, though: I saw Vickers live in the title role in the late '80s (the twilight of his career) in Chicago, and thought the Goodall could be a sort of memento of that occasion, but even as that it is a failure IMHO.  :(

Cheers,

Rafael
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 01:42:13 PM by ritter »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #153 on: December 07, 2014, 01:09:06 PM »
Rafael, I had not brought this version into the discussion as I have mixed feelings about it.

Boulez was my introduction to Parsifal and it seems to have driven us in different directions. I got rid of the LPs and moved on to Karajan, then Knappersbush, Goodall, Gatti and now Kubelik. Gatti also is slow, but not glacial as Goodall can be. I think it can be involving, but I have to be in the mood for it.

Mike
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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #154 on: December 08, 2014, 07:53:07 AM »
This discussion, plus my re-watching Star Wars ( :D ), led me to Parsifal again. I had left aside the 1985 version by Levine in Bayreuth, for a long time (it is in the "Great Operas from Bayreuth" Decca box). Finishing Act 1 just now... And it is an excellent performance ! I mean, for the moment there is absolutely no vocal downside, and the orchestra is really overwhelmingly powerful (when the studio Parsifal by Levine can be rightly deemed as static).
Now that's a bother, I have to listen again to all my versions ::)

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #155 on: December 09, 2014, 03:06:10 AM »
Parsifal > Tristan.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #156 on: December 09, 2014, 03:23:00 AM »
This discussion, plus my re-watching Star Wars ( :D ), led me to Parsifal again. I had left aside the 1985 version by Levine in Bayreuth, for a long time (it is in the "Great Operas from Bayreuth" Decca box). Finishing Act 1 just now... And it is an excellent performance ! I mean, for the moment there is absolutely no vocal downside, and the orchestra is really overwhelmingly powerful (when the studio Parsifal by Levine can be rightly deemed as static).
Now that's a bother, I have to listen again to all my versions ::)

Finishing Levine's live Parsifal from Bayreuth in 1985, and it ranks at the very top IMHO. I understand this version is either really loved or, maybe not hated but considered as dull and uninteresting, which I find unimaginable. Also, I didn't think I would be so thrilled by such a slow version, but it is more than possible...

I'll discuss different versions as I listen to them again (or, sometimes, for the first time), but that might take a while :P

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #157 on: December 09, 2014, 04:29:43 AM »
Levine's 1985 Bayreuth recording was my first Parsifal. Still love it! Tempo is just the correct.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

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Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #158 on: December 09, 2014, 04:36:46 AM »
Wagner's Parsifal is a masterpiece, one of the most powerful and suggestive works I've ever listened to; I have got four recordings of the sacred drama par excellence, Karajan, Solti, Knappertsbusch 62 and Gatti; I was recently recommended Kubelik's performance, which was described in an enthusiastic way....and after listening to some excerpts and after reading some comments here, the praises seem to be justified. Is the full recording really so good?
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Offline ritter

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Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #159 on: December 09, 2014, 05:16:51 AM »
Wagner's Parsifal is a masterpiece, one of the most powerful and suggestive works I've ever listened to; I have got four recordings of the sacred drama par excellence, Karajan, Solti, Knappertsbusch 62 and Gatti; I was recently recommended Kubelik's performance, which was described in an enthusiastic way....and after listening to some excerpts and after reading some comments here, the praises seem to be justified. Is the full recording really so good?
Ciao, Ilaria! The short answer to your quetion is: YES! The long one is:

The Kubelik is an excellent recording of Parsifal...When I first listened to it, I wasn't that impressed, but some months later...wow! The prelude is done wonderfully: the way that the conductor manages to juxtapose the different motifs of this stunning composition is admirable. The orchestral response is also very, very good.

It is on the slow side, although it isn't "solemn" (and I mean this as a compliment). Some passages are really very slow (the transformation music in Act 1, for instance), but not to the point of dragging.

Of the soloists, the Gurnemanz of Kurt Moll stands out...one of the best I've ever heard. Firm tone, noble delivery, very clear pronunciation. I think that in the title role, the younger King (on Boulez's set) is better than his older self here, but it still is a good performance. Yvonne Minton, an artist I hugely admire, is a "different" Kundry, and again I think she is better on her other recording (conducted Armin Jordan--the soundtrack to the Syberberg film). Franz Mazura is as good a Klingsor as any (I'm partial, as I saw him in the role in Bayreuth when I was very young), and Weikl is an accomplished Amfortas, on the lyrical side (again, I saw him in the role in Bayreuth).

With Knappertsbusch and the Boulez that you've ordered, you'll have the recordings of two conductors who have set standards in this piece, I'd say (Boulez took the Wieland Wagner staging in Bayreuth over from Knappertsbusch after the latter's death--with a one year interregnum of Cluytens in 1965). Knappertsbusch and Boulez are almost complete opposites, but both very valid approaches to the piece. I do think, though, that Knappertsbusch 62 is marred by the poor Gurnemenz of Hans Hotter (a wonderful artist, but here well past his prime and underlining the character's status as an elderly man--something I find really unpleasant).

The Kubelik is an excellent complement to Knappertsbusch and Boulez. Solti is, in my opinion, slightly inferior to any of these (except for Christa Ludwig's breathtaking portrayal of Kundry).
....

One thing though: you are missing one very, very important recording of the piece, one that demonstrates that widely diverging approaches to this music are valid and worthwhile. You're missing this :) :



Sorry, can't help proselytizing: for me, reading the words "Parsifal" and "Boulez" on the same cover brings together what in IMHO are two of the greatest summtits of the art of music... :D :D
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 07:11:09 AM by ritter »
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