Parsifal Box-Set, Hybrid SACD
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The third issue in PentaTone's ambitious project to record ten mature Wagner operas by the time of the composer's bicentenary in 2013 proves to be the finest so far released. The live recording was made on April 8, 2011 in the Philharmonie, Berlin, with an exceptional international cast of soloists under the direction of Marek Janowski and the superb contribution of the Rundfunkchor, Berlin, a vital component in the success of this undertaking... From the opening bars of the Prelude one is struck by the luminous and pellucid sonic quality that the engineers have achieved. The ethereal string playing benefits from the unexpectedly spacious acoustic, and when the brass enter they are rich and weighty in tone. Janowski imparts a wonderful sense of purpose to the music and the clarity of execution that he achieves from his orchestra is remarkable. Gergiev's equally valid reverential approach to this prelude unfortunately is marred by his audible mutterings that, on repeated listening, become more irritating. Janowski's cast has been chosen with great care and is uniformly impressive with no weak links even in the smallest roles. The Titurel of the Russian bass Dimitry Ivashchenko deserves special mention for his well-projected sepulchral tones, and the Blumenmädchen are as bright and sexy a bunch as one could wish for... Finally, the lynch-pins in this recording are the Rundfunkchor, Berlin, whose singing displays such power and grandeur in the choruses of Acts 1 & 3, and the Berlin Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester whose marvellously responsive playing illuminates every aspect of the score. The PentaTone recording is superb in capturing an appropriate sense of space and depth. The perspectives of the off-stage voices and brass benefit from the added realism of the surround sound, while the transparent reproduction of the warm orchestral timbres are complemented by Janowski's vital conducting. Presentation of the 4-disc set is excellent and includes the full libretto in German and English, a thought-provoking essay on the work by Steffen Georgi and biographies of the artists. Access to the discs has been improved by a small change to the packaging. This dramatic and involving 'Parsifal' raises Marek Janowski's epic Wagnerian journey to a new level of excellence that one hopes will be maintained in the performances and recordings yet to come - an exciting prospect for all Wagnerites! Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net --Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net --2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net
This is a deliberately paced but never draggy reading with a different cast of Wagnerian specialists than in Meistersinger or Der Fliegende Holländer, but once again a very aptly chosen roster with real understanding of Wagner's music and generally fine vocal sound. Wagner's final opera remains one of his most controversial, with arguments about whether the libretto is or is not traditionally Christian, does or does not contain considerable anti-Semitism, and is or is not sunk by its own internal contradictions (how did Titurel end up with a son, Amfortas, in a world where sexual contact with women is de facto evidence of unholiness?). What is inarguable, though, is the sublimity of the music and the extraordinarily tight-knit nature of the score the interrelationship of the leitmotifs here is beyond anything else in Wagner, and so are the moves beyond tonality into evanescence (starting with a Prelude that, if it not supposed to put the audience to sleep, is surely intended to lull listeners into a sense of otherworldliness).Janowski's attentiveness to instrumental effects and the frequent chamber-music-like elements of Parsifal is remarkable, and most of the singers do a fine job of trying to breathe some life into their unidimensional characters. Kundry, the only one in the opera who seems fully alive, is well sung by Michelle DeYoung, although listeners familiar with earlier recordings featuring Waltraud Meier's deeply felt and beautifully projected handling of the role may find DeYoung somewhat pale. Eike Wilm Schulte makes a fine Klingsor, perhaps not filled with menace but certainly monomaniacal in his determination to take the Grail for his own. The good guys are somewhat more colorless. Gurnemanz (Franz-Josef Selig) has the most lines, and knits the first and third acts together; and there is certainly passion in Selig's singing, although at times his voice wavers a little. Dimitry Ivashchenko, who handles the small part of Titurel with world-weary intensity, might have been a better choice as Gurnemanz a role he has sung elsewhere with considerable success. Christian Elsner is fine as Parsifal, a part as thankless as it is central: its primary characteristics are bewilderment and tentativeness, which Elsner projects effectively. In the equally important, equally thankless role of the ever-complaining Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin sings with such vocal strength that he comes across as somewhat too intense for a character supposed to be agonized both physically and spiritually.The Flower Maidens scene said to have been Wagner's favorite in the opera is especially well handled here, through the contrast of Elsner's naïveté with the surface sweetness and underlying danger of the magical women.The overall performance is actually more consistent than that of Meistersinger: it is strong from start to finish. Still to come in this exemplary series are Lohengrin, Tristan, Tannhäuser and the four Ring operas. Even without Rienzi, which cries out for a top-notch new recording, PentaTone s releases are shaping up as a major highlight of the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth. --http://infodad.com --infodad.com
...Christian Elsner is a wonderfully sensitive and expressive Parsifal... The recorded sound is sensational...If Janowski s planned cycle, of which this is the third instalment, continues like this, it will unquestionably be the finest modern traversal on disc of Wagner's achievement. BBC Music Magazine, June 2012 Recording of the Month - ***** Performance & Recording --BBC Music Magazine, June 2012
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wegen seiner Längen und Langsamkeit, der komplexen und tiefgründigen Handlung, ...
Dann erwarb ich Janowskis Parsifal und mit dem ausgezeichneten Booklet vor der Musikanlage kam dieser schwere Wagnerbrocken auf einmal ganz neu und spannend herüber.
Dies liegt im Folgenden begründet. Zunächst ist es die hervorragende Aufnahmetechnik, die beim Parsifal als Konzertversion nun einmal besser zu bewerkstelligen ist, als bei einem Theatermitschnitt.
Weiterhin sind das Orchester und der Chor vortrefflich. Ferner kann man die Sänger(innen) fast immer ausgezeichnet hören, was das Textverständnis angeht. Janowski hat meines Erachtens eine Topbesetzung für seinen Parsifal erreichen können. Alle Sänger(innen) bringen eine Supergesangsleistung,
und ich möchte mich keineswegs den Rezensenten anschließen, deren vermeintliche Pflicht es ist, mindestens einen Akteur immer mehr oder weniger in die Pfanne zu hauen. So hat z.B. unverständlicherweise Michelle de Youngs Kundry manche Kritik ertragen müssen, und ihre Kundry finde ich gerade ausgezeichnet.
Ihr "Ich sah ihn-und lachte.. da traf mich sein Blick" liegt mir immer noch im Ohr!