Wagner: Tannhäuser

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Tannhäuser
PERFORMER: Peter Seiffert, Waltraud Meier, Jane Eaglen, Thomas Hampson, René Pape; Berlin Staatsoper Chorus, Berlin Staatskapelle/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-88064-2
Barenboim’s new Tannhäuser is something of a compromise. He opts for a hybrid version of his own which has neither the stylistic consistency of the original Dresden score nor the full impact of the supercharged, highly chromatic Paris revision. Barenboim’s interpretation also falls somewhere between the two key rival recordings: less high-voltage than Solti (Paris) and less moulded and refined than Haitink (Dresden). The weakest link is the Elisabeth of Jane Eaglen, who tends to sound blowsy in louder passages and cannot sufficiently control a slight wobble in her dramatic soprano for the Act III prayer. The more visceral heroism of Helga Dernesch (Solti) and the touching vulnerability of Lucia Popp (Haitink) are much to be preferred in their different ways. Peter Seiffert tackles the punishing title role admirably without quite matching the heights of René Kollo for Solti. Waltraud Meier’s Venus is now sounding a little long in the tooth to have delayed the errant minstrel in her love grotto for quite so long. The sensuous charms of Christa Ludwig (Solti) make far more sense. Thomas Hampson is outstanding as Wolfram but this is not enough to tip the balance. The Solti, in superb sound, with the VPO on top form is still hard to beat. Clive Portbury