Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde (complete opera recorded in 1995)

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RICHARD WAGNER
Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde (complete opera recorded in 1995)
Bayreuth festival / Siegfried Jerusalem, Waltraud Meier, Matthias Hölle, Falk Struckmann / Daniel Barenboim (cond)

[ Deutsche Grammophon DVD / 2 DVD ]

Release Date: Friday 25 October 2013

Rated: G - Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993Suitable for General Audiences

Tristan und Isolde in the acclaimed production by Heiner Müller from the Bayreuth festival from 1995, conducted by Daniel Barenboim with fire and sensitivity. Siegfried Jerusalem as Tristan and Waltraud Meier as Isolde have consistently drawn enthusiastic acclaim for their performance, not only in the year of the premiere, but in subsequent years as well Heiner Müller and stage designer Erich Wonder have compressed the monumental story into a clear and fascinating geometry of love. Wonder created highly evocative spaces through projections of colours and forms which shift according to the mood One widely noted example of Müller´s elegant, restrained interpretation, in which small gestures replace sweeping displays of passion, is the famous love duet, in which Tristan and Isolde, instead of embracing rapturously, stand back to back and side by side and touch, ever so lightly, only the tips of their fingers.

" As for the long awaited debuts of Meier and Jerusalem, the audience was ecstatic, so much so that Jerusalem excitedly hugged and kissed his partner several times during the curtain calls" (Herald Tribune)

"Daniel Barenboim's earliest performances of Tristan at Bayreuth are documented in a DVD of the 1981 production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (filmed in 1983) with René Kollo and Johanna Meier in the title-roles (available from DG). In 1993, when he was vastly more experienced and assured in his handling of this formidable score, Barenboim returned to the work in conjunction with playwright and theatre director Heiner Müller. This recording was made two years later, over seven days during the festival's rehearsal period. One imagines that the acts were filmed (without audiences) on separate days, to great advantage where the singers' stamina is concerned: but one particularly evident edit, at the point of Isolde's long-awaited entrance in Act 3, indicates that this is in some respects a hybrid product, halfway between a live performance and a studio version of a particular staging.
This is a fine and intensely moving account of a supreme masterpiece of musical theatre. It is not perfect, with the setting for Act 2 particularly unappealing, but it is serious in its dramatic, theatrical intent, and (that Act 2 setting apart) accomplished in its realisation. Müller's conception of the work is austere, not expecting setting or acting to get in the way of things which are best left to the music, and on the whole he has managed a difficult assignment with flair and conviction. Nowhere is this clearer than at the end, where Waltraud Meier sings the Liebestod from the front of the stage, with no semaphoring gestures and only facial expression and beautifully graded vocal projection to convey the essence of the drama.
Singers with more opulent voices have undertaken the role, yet Meier's contained, richly nuanced approach to both acting and singing is ideally suited to this production. Her Tristan, Siegfried Jerusalem, is no less impressive, with a poised demeanour avoiding the woodenness that afflicts so many Wagner tenors. Add a marvellously sonorous Marke in Matthias Hölle, no weaknesses in the other roles, and the virtues stack up to something special.
Does Barenboim's very explicit musical moulding actually fit with such a restrained stage production? Or is the whole point in the contrast between the visible and the audible? Such basic questions make one think yet again about the nature and significance of Wagner's most provocative and inexhaustible work for the stage.
Something special, indeed." Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

"This is a fine an intensely moving account of a supreme masterpiece of musical theatre. Müller's conception of the work is austere… and on the whole he has managed a difficult assignment with flair and conviction. …Meier's contained, richly nuanced approach to both acting and singing is ideally suited to this production. Her Tristan Siegfried Jerusalem, is not less impressive, with a poised demeanour avoiding the woodenness that afflicts so many Wagner tenors. Add a marvellously sonorous Marke in Matthias Hölle, no weaknesses in the other roles, and in the virtues stack up to something special." Gramophone Magazine, November 2008

"As for the long awaited debuts of Meier and Jerusalem, the audience was ecstatic, so much so that Jerusalem excitedly hugged and kissed his partner several times during the curtain calls" Herald Tribune

"...a splendid partnership of Siegfried Jerusalem at his finest and the rich-voiced Waltraud Meier, also at her freshest...Barenboim is in his element" Penguin Guide, 2010 ****